VW Peony Festival’s 38th edition to open
DAVE MOSIER/independent editor
It’s time again for the Van Wert Peony Festival, one of the county’s premier annual events. This year, the 38th edition of the festival, promises to provide some favorite activities, as well as new events, for area residents to enjoy. As it has for the past few years, the festival is coupled with the ArtRageous on Main art event, which will also have displays and events in downtown Van Wert (see story in Archives).
The festival has been around since 1932, when Van Wert was the home of several commercial peony farms. The original event, which at one time rivaled the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., and included two parades, ended in 1941, due to the closing of the peony farms and the advent of World War II. The first revival ran from 1955 to 1960, while the current revival began in 1992.
This year’s festival, which has the theme, “A Time to Remember”, kicks off Friday morning at 10 with the Van Wert Optimist Club Art Show, which runs until 6 in the evening at Fountain Park.
Also on Friday will be a craft show, starting at 11 a.m. in the park, while a lunch with Queen Jubilee XXXVIII Jordan Rex will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at DeShia County Gift Shoppe on U.S. 127 south. Food vendors and ArtRageous on Main exhibits will open at noon, as will a silent Chair-ity Auction for Wassenberg Art Center.
The Peony Petal Prince and Princess Contest will be held from 5-7 p.m. Friday in the S.F. Goedde Building gymnasium on West Crawford Street, while the Peony Festival Car Show will begin at 6 p.m. and run until 9 Friday evening on Main Street.
Phil Dirt & the Dozers will also open up the Summer Music Series in Fountain Park, starting at 7 p.m. Friday. That concert is free and open to the public (see story below).
Saturday’s activities begin at 9 a.m. with the Kids Free Fishing Derby held at the YMCA’s Camp Clay on Liberty-Union Road west of Van Wert. Stars by Erin dancers will perform on the stage of the Fountain Park band shell, starting at 9:30 Saturday morning, while garden tours around the Van Wert area begin at 10 a.m. and run until 2 in the afternoon.
An architectural hunt will run from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday on Main Street in downtown Van Wert, while a 1-mile kids fun run will be held at Camp Clay at 10:45 a.m., followed by the Peony Pace 5K Run/Walk at 11 Saturday morning at Camp Clay.
A pet show will be held at the Fountain Park band shell, starting at 11 a.m., while a Kids Graffiti Contest will also be held in the park, starting at noon and running until 5 p.m. The Michigan City (Ind.) Soul Steppers will perform at the Fountain Park band shell, starting at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, with the 57th annual June Art Show runs from 1-5 and 5-10 p.m. at Wassenberg Art Center on South Washington Street.
The Queen’s Tea will be held at 1:30 p.m. at Willow Bend Country Club, 579 Hospital Drive, while the Delphos Dance team will perform in Fountain Park at 2 Saturday afternoon and Kim Hohman’s DanceWorks dancers will be on the band shell stage from 3-4 p.m.
The Peony Festival Grand Parade will begin at 5 p.m. along South Washington Street. This year’s grand marshal is former U.S. Army noncommissioned officer and Van Wert Middle School teacher Christine Gemmer. Gemmer, who earned Bronze Star and Army Commendation medals, served in two U.S. conflicts: Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of the 1487th Transportation Company of the Ohio National Guard. The parade will also feature plenty of floats, marching units, bands, and military vehicles.
On Sunday, festival activities wind down with just garden tours, from noon-3 p.m. and the June Art Show on the calendar (click here for a full schedule of events).
With lots to do, see and enjoy, the Van Wert Peony Festival is the place to be this weekend.