With band in place, Chingawassa Days ready to (rock and) roll

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After months of preparation and thousands of dollars spent on new, wider sidewalks, electrical upgrades and other improvements at Marion?s Central Park, the stage is set for Chingawassa Days starting Friday.

In addition to making sure the park would be shipshape in time for the three-day festival, Margo Yates, executive director of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event, told city council members at a recent meeting that she needed to call in a big favor.

Yates said the group that was booked as the main entertainment notified the committee it was unable to appear.

Remembering that 38 Special, a rock band performing at Chingawassa Days in 2002, had once told Yates, and other organizers, that if they should ever need them, they would be back to help in whatever way they could.

When this year?s band reneged, Yates told the council it was because of how much 38 Special liked the people of Marion and the festival that they were willing to return without hesitation.

With all the kinks ironed out and the key elements in place for the feature concert on Saturday evening, the celebration is ready to begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday with the community barbecue, sponsored by Marion National Bank.

At 6:30 p.m., an ice cream social is scheduled and at 6:45 p.m. Timber Creek, a traditional bluegrass band, will perform.

?Comedy Stage Hypnotist Unleashed? follows at 8:30 p.m. featuring Brad Clark.

Saturday events start early with a Kiwanis Pancake Feed from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

After breakfast, a 5K run and two-mile run/walk begins at 8 a.m. Those planning to take part will need to pre-register at Case and Son or the gate prior to the event, according to organizers.

Between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. is a horseshoe pitching tournament with registration at 7:30 a.m.

The ?Questionable Celebrity Tricycle Races? begin at 9:30 a.m. on Main Street and with last year?s controversial finish, some organizers are expecting this to be an exciting event.

Last year?s race saw Casey Case retaining his tricycle title. But runner-up Mike Powers said this year?s rematch is something he has been waiting for all year, especially after his tricycle mysteriously broke down in the final race, leaving him with a less-than-perfect replacement three-wheeler.

Another favorite, the Marion Emergency Medical Services Toilet Race will follow the tricycle race on Main Street.

Other highlights include Animal Menagerie at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the St. Luke Hospital Dinky Duck Race at 10:30 a.m.; the Chinga Chuck Water Balloon Launch, benefitting Marion High School?s cheerleaders, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Carlson?s Grocery Kid Zone featuring inflatable fun; the Bal-A-Vis-X at the Gazebo stage at 11:15 a.m. ; noon the Kansas Anvil Shooters and Texas Hold ?Em Tourna?ment with registration at 11 a.m. and limited to the first 100 participants with buttons.

Saturday afternoon events start at 12:30 p.m. with the Kansas City Marching Cobras; at 1:15 p.m. the paper, rock, scissors tournament and singer Jake Schmidt at 1:30 p.m. with gospel and country music.

Back by popular demand is the Spam Carving Contest at 1:45 p.m. Organizers said to ?find the contest with your nose.?

Other activities include a dodge ball tournament with the Marion Police Department at the basketball court, a texting contest, a watermelon feed, Sumo wrestling, Bingo and more.

38 Special will take the main stage at 9:15 p.m. and at 10 a.m. Sunday is a community church service featuring speaker Thelma Wells, founder of a national women?s ministry.

Other attractions include a petting zoo, climbing wall, food court and more.

Buttons are $35 at the gate. For more information about the event, call 382-0055 or e-mail: chinga@eaglecom.net. More information about the festival is avaliable online at chingawassa. com.

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