Parade one of highlights of Ashland Days Festival

Ron Wyatt dressed up and drove his tractor in the Ashland Days Festival Parade Saturday. Photo by David Brinson

David Brinson

LAFONTAINE -- The Ashland Days Festival took over the streets of LaFontaine again with this year’s parade, Saturday, June 8. The police cars, tractors, motorcycles and trucks driving through, with those inside throwing candy to scrambling children, marked the peak of the festivities.

Commemorating and celebrating the history of LaFontaine, the festival began Friday evening and carried on into Saturday with even more food, games and events. Pete Dupont, a LaFontaine resident, brought his 2-year-old grandson, Steele, to see his first parade.

“We came to support the town, enjoy the community and see tractors,” Dupont said.

Dupont said seeing his grandson’s reaction to the tractors made the whole day worth it. He also enjoyed looking down the street and seeing people lined up, smiling, talking to one another.

“Getting people out of their homes is kind of a lost art these days,” Dupont said. “It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors.”

The grand marshals of the parade were Idris Krhin, Rita Miller and Dixie Mercer. These women have lived in the town since the 1940s and have contributed to not only the festival, but also the churches and schools of LaFontaine.

Unique sights and sounds marched west down Kendall Street. Driving in the parade were both businesses and residents alike. The new LaFontaine Learning Community had a truck with some of their enrolled students. Wabash County’s 2018 4-H Fair Queen Jirni Cripe waved to aspiring queens. Bailey Wyatt, 15, moved through, on foot, twirling her baton as she went.

The children’s eyes grew big when the LaFontaine Fire Department trucks cruised around the corner.

“The people of this community have endured so much weather-wise,” Parade Director Christopher Hensley said, in reference to the abundance of rain and storms this summer. “It’s nice to have something positive for the community.”

Hensley enjoys directing the parade, saying it is like a puzzle when putting it together, but an absolute joy to watch when the pieces snap into place and the picture becomes clear. There are rumors throughout the town that this would be the last Ashland Days Festival. According to Hensley, only time will tell.

“I’m not sure if it’s true or not. They are looking for someone new to head the festival. At this point, it’s too early to tell. But I really hope it’s not the last one. I think our community needs events like this.”

Posted on 2019 Jun 11