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38th annual Peony Festival in Fountain Park this weekend PDF Print E-mail
Friday, June 07, 2013 12:05 AM


DHI Correspondent

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VAN WERT — The historic Van Wert Peony Festival will celebrate its 38th year today and Saturday at Fountain Park on Main Street. This year is expected to bring in all new entertainment and activities and will draw in large crowds at 5 p.m. on Saturday for the much-loved Peony Festival Grand Parade on Washington Street.

“There is a little bit for everybody this year from toddlers to adults,” said Peony Committee President Zoe Longstreth. “We have tried to keep the festival at little to no cost. While we are sorry that there are no amusement rides at the festival this year, they are expected to be back next year and we have filled the void to make this year’s event bigger and better than ever. Now, we are just praying for good weather.”

The peony flower and the city of Van Wert share a special history together that dates back to the 1930s when Van Wert was named “The Peony Center of the World.” Eventually, Peony Sunday was developed by local gardeners and large crowds began to gather in Van Wert near the first of June to see the beautiful peony blooms.

In 1932, the very first Peony Festival was held as an expansion to Peony Sunday and the tradition of the annual Peony Parade began. The festival continued until 1941, stopped until 1955, then ran through 1960. Following a long break, it returned in 1992. Now in 2013, it has continued to grow and the Van Wert community bands together to remember this historic tradition.

The 2013 Peony Festival theme is “A Time To Remember” and will kick off at 10 a.m. today with the opening of information booths on Jefferson and Main streets and the Optimist Youth Art Show at Fountain Park, which concludes at 6 p.m. The craft show will follow at 11 a.m. and run until 9 p.m. Lunch with the peony festival queen, Queen Jubilee XXXVIII Jordan Rex, will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at DeShia Country Gift Shoppe with her court.

At noon, food vendors will open on South Jefferson Street along with ArtRageous on Main and the Wassenberg Art Center Silent Chair-ity Auction in Fountain Park. All three of these features will run until the conclusion of the night at 9 p.m. At 4 p.m., the peony concession stand will open in Fountain Park and will be serving sloppy joes and shredded chicken sandwiches.

Crowds will move to the Goedde Building on Crawford Street from 5-7 p.m. for the Peony Petal Princess and Princess Contest. At 6 p.m., the annual car show will begin on West Main Street with a variety of historical and one-of-a-kind cars. Tonight’s events will conclude with the Phil Dirt and the Dozers’ concert in Fountain Park from 7-9 p.m.

Saturday, three events will be held at the YMCA Camp Clay center. The Kids’ Free Fishing Derby will run from 9-11 a.m. The Kids’ One-Mile Fun Run will begin at 10:45 a.m. with the Peony Pace 5K Run and Walk quickly following at 11 a.m.

ArtRageous on Main events will begin at 10 a.m. and will remain open until the parade starts at 5 p.m.

ArtRageous events include the artist exhibits, Optimist Youth Art Show and the Wassenberg Art Center Silent Chair-ity Auction in the park, as well as the architectural hunt on downtown Main Street. The Peony Festival Garden Tours will also begin at 10 a.m. and will conclude at 2 p.m. Locations can be found in the Peony Festival brochure. The Chalk the Walk Contest will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as contestants decorate the sidewalks within Fountain Park.

Food vendors will open at 10 a.m. and will remain open after the parade until 8 p.m. Kids can join in on the fun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with children’s activities and inflatables. Kids’ Graffiti in the Park will be from noon to 5 p.m. Temporary tattoos and a duck pond will also be available for children. The Water Walker will be available for the first time this year and is expected to catch the attention of local teens as they can walk on water within a clear, plastic ball.

The craft show will continue from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the special Peony Festival Pet Show in the park from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Special entertainment with the Michigan City Soul Steppers will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. with a performance at the band shell in the park. The 75th annual June Art Show at the Wassenberg Art Center will be underway from 1-5 p.m. at its new location on Washington Street.

Another chance to meet the Peony Queen will be at 1:30 p.m. at Willow Bend Country Club for the Queen’s Tea. Pam School of Dance Stars by Erin will provide entertainment at the band shell beginning at 2:30 p.m. and will be immediately followed by Kim Hohman’s School of Dance until 4 p.m.

The main event, the Peony Festival Grand Parade, will begin its decent down Washington Street beginning at 5 p.m. Longstreth noted brand new parade entries, so guests should expect an even bigger parade event than in past years. This year’s parade grand marshal is Christine Gemmer. Guests are encouraged to pick a spot along the curb of Washington Street for the grand parade.

Also at 5 p.m. the 57th Annual June Art Show public opening reception with a band will commence with artist award presentations beginning at 7 p.m. All events should be concluded by 10 p.m. Saturday evening.


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