Old Fashioned Days coincides with city’s 150th birthday

Children wave to participants in the Grand Parade during the 2012 Stanton Old Fashioned Days. — File photos

STANTON — A few torn-up roads and detour signs aren’t going to keep Stanton residents from holding the city’s largest annual festival, Old Fashioned Days. No way. Uh-uh.

Organizers say despite the extensive street repairs that have been going on for the past couple weeks, events will unfold mostly as planned at this year’s celebration. In fact, festival president Ed Petersen says he expects this to be one of the best Old Fashioned Days yet. The festival, which takes place Wednesday and goes through the weekend, coincides with the city’s 150th anniversary.

Not only have several new activities been added to the daytime schedule this year, but a fireworks show is planned for Saturday night following the car cruise.

“That’s new for Old Fashioned Days,” Petersen said. “We’re gonna close out Old Fashioned Days with fireworks down at Central Montcalm High School. Hopefully, this can become an annual thing.”

The fireworks show, like many other Old Fashioned Days offerings, is funded through sponsorships from local businesses.

Petersen admits there has been something of a last minute scramble going on with regard to planning this year. Organizers didn’t find out about the downtown roadwork currently under way until just a few weeks ago. Some activities had to be relocated to other areas to allow for the street projects.

“Jen Rolston, the VP this year, has been instrumental in coordinating a lot of this stuff,” Petersen said. “She has been working hard to work around the street construction stuff.”

Rolston, who co-owns Rolston Hardware, also is sponsoring a kiddy tractor pull on Friday and soapbox derby on Saturday.

“It should be exciting,” she said.

Planning for Old Fashioned Days is year-long process, Petersen added. The Old Fashioned Days Committee — comprised of about 10 active members — begins working on the following year’s festival almost as soon as the current year’s ends.

Planning begins in September and really kicks into high gear in January.

“That’s when we start putting the steam into the next festival,” Petersen said. “We work with all the local businesses as far as sponsorships and donations go. We like to bring back the old events, but there’s always room to add new things and new people. We’re always looking for new ideas.”

One of those new ideas, which debuted last year, is the Ultimate Air Dog Event. Organized by Milt Wilcox and Sandy Keeler, the event is a competition between canines to see which can jump highest and into a swimming pool, in an attempt to catch a favorite toy.

“Last year it was a huge hit,” Keeler said. “We had over 300 dog jumps in the three days (it was held) last year. We expect even more dogs and families this year.”

Another event expected to draw large crowds this year is the free street dance, slated for Friday night in the Chemical Bank parking lot. Music is provided by the classic rock band The Unknowns, who will perform music from the ‘70s and ‘80s from about 10 p.m. to midnight.

Fans of live music will be able to catch lots of other performances throughout the weekend at the downtown free stage. Acts this year include Don Miller and his Country Legends, Chris Holden, the Center Stage Band and others.

To make note of the city’s 150th anniversary, a Sesquicentennial Beard Judging contest will be held, courtesy of Stanton’s Hair Salon.

Grand marshals for this year’s Old Fashioned Days Parade are Thomas and Lorraine Reese. Longtime Stanton residents, they recently celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary. Thomas has been involved with the Stanton Lions Club for 30 years and has helped support and organize many area projects throughout the years.

Petersen said he expects this year’s festival will generate at least as much excitement as have past events. He anticipates between 7,500 and 10,000 celebrants will show up on Saturday alone.

With a full schedule of events throughout the week, Stanton Old Fashioned Days really does offer something for everyone. City Manager James Freed says the event shines a bright spotlight on the positive aspects of Stanton.

“This year there will be events for every member of the family; kids games, car shows, craft shows, and much more,” Freed said. “The Old Fashion Days Committee has done a tremendous job planning a weekend packed with events and shows. This is a free event for every member of the community to enjoy. Old Fashion Days really highlights what’s so wonderful about living, working and raising a family in Stanton.”

The Old Fashioned Days website, stantonofd.com, features a complete lineup of this year’s activities.

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