BOURBON — It would not be summer without small-town festivals of every shape and size. Such was the case this weekend as Bourbon, Etna Green, and Tippecanoe celebrated their 27th Triton SummerFest. The festival began in 1986, and continues to this day as a stanchion of Midwest America.
The first activity of note is always the Friday night Miss Triton pageant, with contestants in age categories 6 to 9, 10 to 12, and 13 to 16. The girls practiced faithfully for their mass dance numbers choreographed by Jamey Bell Baker and Marianne Senff and their individual presentations in youth fitness, interview, and self-expression. “This is a program to help girls build self-esteem and confidence,” said Kathryn (Mimi) Chapman Dreibelbis, SummerFest director, who founded the program with then Clerk-Treasurer Lucille Peckham.
Saturday brought ideal weather and the highly-anticipated SummerFest parade. Heralding the parade’s start were the sirens of the Bourbon Police Department and fire department units from all three townships. By coincidence the first float, by Cub Scout Pack 254, was later named the first-place winner in the large float category. There followed entries of other large floats, walking units, antique tractors, antique cars and trucks, small floats, a baton twirling school, an Akron Lions Club miniature car drill unit, and the beloved appearance of the Triton High School marching band under the direction of Peter Foster. An unusual entry this year was Luke the mechanical Bison, which won in the miscellaneous category and was also the Grand Marshals’ winner.
In addition to the large float and miscellaneous wins, other first-place winners included the Blue and Gold after-school program by the new Church of the Heartland, Bourbon — walking unit, Hoosier Old Wheels — antique cars, the Bates family — tractor, and “Memory of Grandma Marge” — small float. Second places were as follows: tractor — Carswell family 1953 John Deere 60, large float — Kids Country Pre-School, small float — Learning Depot Pre-School, and cars/trucks — Jason Lemler driving a 1994 Peterbuilt semi.
Following the parade Saturday, fun events in Community Park were scheduled, including a Twinkie eating contest and the M&M suck-up. In the latter event, contestants had to suck up an M&M with a straw, carry it to the end of the table, and deposit it into a jar, all without letting the candy fall.
Performers this year included Elvis impersonator Quentin Flagg, who will also be performing this year at the Blueberry Festival after a several-year hiatus, and Nashville singer and banjo player Trilly Cole. The ever-popular Cutie Baby/Child contest and the antique car drive-in vied for the largest crowd attraction. Other events included a demonstration by Plymouth Family Tae Kwon Do and a 5K and fun run.
Food was available from vendors, from the Bourbon Kiwanis Club, and from the Ladies Auxiliary of American Legion Post #424, which served breakfast on Sunday morning. Triton School Corporation celebrated its 50th anniversary by serving ice cream in front of the elementary school.
Small town America is still alive and kicking, as evidenced by this fun traditional happening.