The 17th annual Chinga?wassa Days is featuring popular country music artist Joe Nichols Friday, June 7, and a hard-rock band, FireHouse, Saturday in Marion?s Central Park.
In addition to top-rated entertainment both nights, several activities, games and events are scheduled all day Saturday, according to Mike Powers, Chingawassa Days committee chair.
?This year may be our best year ever (for entertainment),? he said. ?By far the most current act we have ever had will be Friday with Joe Nichols. All of (Nichols?) hits have been in this decade.?
In addition to appearing in Marion, Nichols will also be opening for Tim McGraw next month at Kansas Star Casino in Wichita.
Powers predicted that Fire?House will appeal to a broad spectrum of contemporary music fans.
?If someone is a rock and roll fan, the group on Saturday night, FireHouse, is a ?90s band,? he said. ?People my age who are rockers or classic rock fans may not have heard of FireHouse because they were coming when my children were (growing up).?
Powers said he has heard FireHouse puts on a good act, and even those who prefer classic rock will still enjoy this group.
Something that will get everyone?s blood pumping, according to Powers, is the El Dorado High School Drumline.
?They will be one of the first performing on Main Street Saturday morning,? he said. ?A few years ago, we had a portion of their group here, but this year will be all of them.?
Something new this year is the Rhino Blackout, which is a take off the television show, ?Total Blackout,? in which people are put in rooms in total darkness.
The object of the contest will be to reach into a container and determine by touch what is in it.
Contestants will be timed. In other words, if the ?thing? in the container is a gerbil and it takes one person 15 seconds to figure it out and another 10 seconds, the winner of that round is the person with the lower time.
Committee member Clayton Garnica is sponsoring this new game. Preliminary rounds are at 11:30 a.m. and finals begin at 6 p.m., according to Powers.
As with all the contests, cash prizes will be given to winners.
One of the more popular contests in recent years is arm wrestling.
?We were really amazed last year and didn?t anticipate it being the hit it was,? Powers said. ?It has become a prime attraction, and this year there is even a pro division with people coming in professionally,.
Another draw is the Tug-O-War tournament. Powers said the committee is encouraging people to put together a three-person team and register to see how far they can go in the competition.
Margo Yates, Marion Chamber of Commerce director and committee member, said other events making first appearances this year include Skywalkers, a Cub Scout Boat Regatta and K9 demonstrations.
Skywalkers does tumbling, gymnastics and trampoline, with the show beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, west of the main stage.
?We sure hope the weather cooperates for Skywalkers,? Yates said. ?If it is at all wet in the park, Skywalkers won?t be able to perform.?
The Cub Scout Regatta use rain gutters and racing boats, according to Yates.
?It is almost like a soapbox derby, but with boats and on a smaller scale,? she said.
The community barbecue and ice cream social begins at 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.
Marion National Bank is sponsoring the barbecue, Yates said, and St. Luke Hospital is hosting the ice cream social.
Prior to the concert featuring Joe Nichols, Brooks & Walsh are performing at 7 p.m.
Activities begin Saturday with a Kiwanis pancake feed from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Case & Son Rhino 5K and 2-mile run/walk starts at 8 a.m. with registration at Case & Son, 220 E. Main St., or at the gate prior to the event.
Other morning events include a horseshoe-pitching tournament from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., the Kansas Anvil Shooters at the south end of the park at 8:30 a.m., the El Dorado High School Drumline on Main Street at 9:30 a.m. and St. Luke Hospital?s Dinky Duck Race at 10 a.m.
Chainsaw artistic carving demonstrations also begin at 10 a.m. at the southwest corner of the park, and a portable pets petting zoo will be on the east side from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., sponsored by Eagle Communications.
Carlson?s Grocery is sponsoring a ?Kid Zone,? from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with inflatables.
A mechanical bull, sponsored by the Kansas National Guard, will be available mid-morning starting at 10:30 a.m., with heads/tails at 11 a.m. and the Marion Police Department and Cross Valley K-9 demonstrations at 11:15 a.m., Yates said.
Several newer and older favorites on Saturday afternoon include a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Rock/Paper/Scissors tournament, sculpting contest, Tug-o-War, texting contest, Bingo and more.
Sunday, the community church service will feature Brian Arnold at Marion Christian Church beginning at 10:30 a.m. and the second annual Great Kansas Antique Tractor Ride starts at the park at 2 p.m.
For more information about the festival or tickets, call 620-382-3425 or visit: chingawassadays.com.