7th Chingawassa Days will kick off Friday

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
It’s as easy as catching a Kansas breeze to find your way to the Chingawassa Days festival in Marion’s Central Park this month.

And Gene Winkler, steering-committee chair, is putting out the town’s welcome mat to all festival enthusiasts.

“To have something like this in a small town, it does take participation from everybody,” Winkler said.

“We need people to come from Marion, Hillsboro, Peabody and the surrounding areas. We even have two families coming from England this year.”

The seventh-annual event offers non-stop activities scheduled from Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 8. The festival is sponsored by the city of Marion, the Marion Chamber of Commerce and area businesses.

Old favorites-such as the bed race down Main Street, an anvil shoot and the pedal-tractor pull-will return this year.

But organizers have been working year long to offer new attractions-a rock-climbing wall, wild West gunfighters, a remote-control-car race, a bubble-art show, yo-yo demonstrations and even a chance to test a cowpoke’s fast-draw speed.

The Saturday night concert is going to be a unique opportunity to see the Ozark Mountain Daredevils perform on what may be their final tour.

“If people want to see them, this might be their last chance,” Winkler said.

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils have been performing for more than three decades in all 50 states and beyond, into Europe and Scandinavia.

Current band members have been performing together for 10 years and include three original members-Steve Cash on harmonica and vocals, Michael “Supe” Granda on bass and vocals, and John Dillon on guitar, fiddle and vocals.

As the Kansas sun heats up, fair goers will find a supply of water fountains, and bottled water will also be for sale from various vendors.

Two new conveniences have been added to this year’s event to make sure having fun is easy for festival goers-a lawn-chair check-in and baby-sitting services.

“Friday night, when you bring your lawn chair, and the concert is over, and you don’t want to carry the chair home, we’ll have a lawn-chair check at the gate for a minimal charge,” Winkler said.

Returning on Saturday, patrons can pick up their chair for the day’s events and check it in again that night.

“We’ll keep it for the Sunday service so you don’t have to carry it back and forth,” Winkler said.

And parents can count on the Lincolnville Girl Scouts, who will baby-sit for a minimal charge this year.

Those working to make sure the event has something for everyone are steering-committee members Winkler, Susan Cooper, Chris Costello, Dave Crofoot, Jan Helmer, Dave Hett, Randy Kelsey, Sharon Kelsey, Jandee Moore, Mike Powers, Roger Schwab, Bruce Skiles and Margo Yates.

But a host of more than 100 volunteers have given of their time and energy, and plan to be on hand during the festival to make sure it runs smoothly.

Helping again this year are community-service volunteers working through court personnel.

“And we appreciate their work, too,” Winkler said.

Two different festival-admission buttons are available at participating area businesses and banks. The deadline to purchase buttons in advance for a reduced price was May 30, but they are still available in the area and will be sold at the gate.

The cost of a general admission and concert button is now $25 and will admit festival goers to the majority of festival activities and the Saturday night concert. The second button is for general-admission. It costs $7 and is also good for most of the activities, but does not include the concert. Children 10 and under are admitted free of charge.

The park is closed after the afternoon activities to prepare for the evening concert, which requires a square festival button for admittance.

“It’s a really good price to get all of that,” Winkler said about the price of a full-weekend of activities, including the evening concert.

Friday schedule

The three-day event begins Friday evening, and patrons can choose to attend the following scheduled activities:

 Chain Saw Artists-begins at 6 p.m. in the park with the Robinson family from Missouri creating wood sculptures using chain saws. It will be held throughout the evening and the duration of the festival.

Rock Climbing Wall-new event available beginning at 6 p.m. in the park with an opportunity to climb a rock wall. This is a one-evening-only event sponsored by the Kansas National Guard.

Marion National Bank Barbecue-begins at 6 p.m. offering barbecue sandwiches, baked beans, chips and drinks. The barbecue is sponsored by the bank and included in the price of the button.

St. Luke Hospital Ice Cream Social-begins at 7 p.m.; different flavors of ice cream will be served in bowls with the help of hospital-staff volunteers; sponsored by the hospital and included in the price of the button.

Karaoke Contest-begins at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage and requires pre-registration at G & J Video in Marion; competition in three categories with cash prizes; contestants must check in at 6:45 p.m at the stage.

Southwestern Bell Corporation Presents the Music of Soul Preachers-begins at 9 p.m. featuring classic rock performed by Soul Preachers from Salina on the Main Stage and sponsored by SBC.

Saturday schedule

Throughout the day, patrons can visit the food court offering Navajo fry bread, bratwursts, smoothies, deep-fried foods, hamburgers, ‘Kettle Korn,’ nachos, cinnamon-roasted nuts, barbecue onion blossoms, stuffed peppers and more.

The following day-long events will be free with the price of a festival button, unless otherwise noted with an (*):

Marion Kiwanis Pancake Feed*-open from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.; pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee for sale at the Kiwanis tent; all-you-can-eat pancakes sponsored by the Marion Kiwanis.

Dynamite Wanda Anvil Shoot-begins at 9 a.m.; demonstration by Dynamite Wanda and her sons; full-size anvil positioned on top of another anvil and shot into the air; located by the basketball court at the south end of the park.

Remote-Control Car Racing-new event begins at 9:15 a.m. with preliminary time trials; two categories- electric and gas-competing to vie for the championship race at 3:30 p.m.; located at the basketball court at the south end of the park; competitors bring own remote-control cars; no age limit.

Wild-West Gunfighters-new event begins at 9:45 a.m. as the saga of the old West unfolds at Fifth and Main streets prior to the bed race, and gunfight continues to unfold two more times in the afternoon.

Tampa State Bank “Bed Rock ‘N Run” Bed Races-begins at 10 a.m. at Fifth and Main streets; popular event that is fun to run and fun to watch; pre-registration required at Tampa State Bank; two categories-decoration and bed-race winner-vie for cash prizes; everybody who enters gets a T-shirt.

Child Car-Seat Check-available from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Marion County Health Department.

The World Famous Bubble Man-new event begins at 10:45 a.m. on the Chamber Stage in front of the gazebo; Ron Tibbetts from Wichita will delight the audience with a bubble-art demonstration; Tibbetts has performed his unusual act on three continents.

Mule Rides in the Park*-available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for an additional charge; appropriate for cowboys and cowgirls of all ages to go for a nature-trail ride; located at the back of the park.

Vicky’s School of Dance-begins at 11:15 a.m. on the Chamber Stage starring students of Vicky Mohn in a “mini recital.”

Fun Time Amusements*-available from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; rides located in the park; $5 stamp for all day or $1 per ride; activities appropriate for the young and young at heart; several rides will be available, such as a trackless train, a moon walk and an obstacle course.

Wild-West Gunfighters-begins at noon with a full performance of gunfighters hoping to settle the score once and for all later in the park.

Alex Stuchlik Polka Band-performance at noon by Pilsen polka band playing authentic Czech polka music on the Gazebo Stage in the park.

Midlands Farm Services and Scully Estates Present Boot Race and Money in the Hay-competitions begin at 12:30 p.m.; sign up required before race begins; appropriate for all age groups.

River City Spinners Yo-Yo Club-new event beginning at 1:30 p.m. is a crowd favorite from Wichita and has also performed at the Kansas State Fair. Bring a yo-yo, and learn new tricks after the performance.

Abilene Fast Draw Club-new event begins at 2 p.m near the horseshoe pits by the front of the park.; rare opportunity to see Miles Miller, 2002 Fast Draw World Champion, in action; after the performance, fair-goers can test their fast-draw skill using rubber bullets and a timing device.

Deere Trail Equipment Inc. Pedal Tractor Pull-registration at 1:30 p.m.; pedal pull begins at 2:30 p.m. in the park; winner moves on to regional competition.

Central National Bank Watermelon Feed-begins at 3 p.m. at the Kiwanis tent.

Alex Stuchlik Polka Band-return performance at 3 p.m. on the Gazebo Stage.

Miniature Horse Demonstration-begins at 3 p.m.; courtesy of Larry and Deana Olsen’s Cottonwood Miniature Horses of Marion.

Remote-Control Car Racing-championship race begins at 3:30 p.m. at the basketball court.

Central National Bank Bingo-begins at 3:30 p.m.; fabulous cash prizes awarded; located at the Kiwanis tent.

Wild-West Gunfighters-shoot-out at 3:30 p.m. in the park with the last man left standing.

Alternative Rock Bands-performance from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with Agent 5 Nine, and Heads or Tails, both from Marion, performing on the Luta Creek Stage.

Dynamite Wanda Anvil Shoot-begins at 5 p.m. with a final performance for the day to make sure all have had a chance to see this unique demonstration.

The park closes at 5:30 p.m. and reopens at 6 p.m. to admit only concert-button holders for the following events:

American Kids Nationals Finalist-vocal performance at 6:30 p.m. by Lauren Hodges; 13-year-old country and western singer from Broken Arrow, Okla.; 2002 American Kids Nationals finalist; 2003 grand-champion vocalist in American Kids regional competition in Oklahoma.

Chain Saw Art Auction-begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Main Stage. Festival enthusiasts will have an opportunity to bid on about 12 pieces of chain-saw art carved during the festival.

Synergy-performance at 7:15 p.m. at the Main Stage; Wichita band back by popular demand from last year’s successful Friday concert; performance ranges from classic rock to contemporary blues and country.

Ozark Mountain Daredevils-performance at 9 p.m. on the Main Stage; a crowd pleaser due to its Southern rock and bluesy country sound; hits include “If You Wanna Get To Heaven” that went gold and “Jackie Blue” that went No. 1 worldwide.

Sunday schedule

The final events of the Chingawassa Days weekend will begin with the Marion Kiwanis Continental Breakfast served from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sunday. Rolls, kolahces, juice and coffee will be available for an additional charge.

A church service will begin at 10 a.m. and will close the festival weekend. Pastor John Ryding will officiate the service sponsored by the Marion Ministerial Alliance.

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