FunFest 2015 to begin on Aug. 5

A map looking at the various street closures planned Saturday, Aug. 8, for the FunFest by the River running events. Photo provided

By Shaun Tilghman

The North Manchester community is just days from one of its most celebrated traditions, the annual FunFest By The River event, which will take place from Wednesday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 9, this year.

In addition to the traditional activities, the festival has added a number of new activities and contests to the schedule this year.

New Events

“This year, not only do we have Powder Puff Football and the Bon Fire on Wednesday, which we started last year,” said Laura Rager, Chamber of Commerce executive director, “but we’ve also added another new event called Trivia Night, which will be hosted at Zook’s Café.

“The Wabash County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, who are new sponsors for us this year, provided prize money for that event, and it will be a great opportunity for Zook’s because they’ve done a lot of remodeling and they recently obtained their liquor license. Trivia Night will be for teams of up to five people, and you pay an entry fee of $5, but the prize for first place is $150.”

The festival will also be featuring live bands that will play Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, Rager continued, starting with the Wabatucky Shooters on Thursday.

“Another new event this year is the Pie Eating Contest, which was a very popular addition to the Timbercrest Summer Festival this year,” She said. “NewMarket agreed to sponsor that event and will provide all the pies.”

Rager went on to say that they have also expanded on the contest previously known as the “Pie Bake Off.” Beginning this year, the contest has been renamed “The Dessert Bake Off.”

Other Changes

The festival is also undergoing several changes this year, including the relocation of carnival rides from Walnut Street to Main Street. Also, there will be no Tennis Tournament in FunFest this year.

“In accordance with a request from the State Fire Marshal, we had to relocate the Carnival Rides from Walnut Street to Main Street (between Market and Front streets),” Rager explained. “So, downtown Main Street is considered closed from Wednesday at 8 a.m. until Sunday at noon.

“The municipal parking lot will also be closed during that time in order to accommodate the support vehicles and generators for the rides. However, for people wanting to get downtown on Wednesday or Thursday, you will still be able to park in front of businesses on Main Street, but you will not be able to drive any further west than Market Street.”
Trolley Rides

FunFest 2015 will also mark the inaugural appearance of Wabash County Trolley No. 85.

“This is the first year the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has had the Trolley, and they make it available to the Town of North Manchester at no charge – other than paying for the driver,” Rager added.

The trolley will be following one route on Friday and a different route on Saturday, she continued.

“The route on Saturday will be larger because it incorporates the Covered Bridge and Farmers’ Market,” Rager said. “The idea on Friday is that the Trolley will help transport people to the activities after they’ve parked their cars. So, there are designated stops where the Trolley will be picking up and dropping off in order to keep people from having to walk as far.

“On Saturday, we’re using it as an opportunity for people to just take a ride on the Trolley, go through the Covered Bridge, visit the Farmers’ Market, etc. So, the Trolley is a big addition this year and we’re very excited about that.”
2015’s Theme

“We’re also excited about this year’s theme,” Rager said. “Traditionally, the FunFest Committee comes up with a theme each year, but this year’s theme actually came from the car show, because it’s the 25th anniversary.

“The people involved with the car show had already decided on a 90s theme, so the FunFest Committee decided to join them in their celebration by making the overall theme ‘Back to the 90s,’ which obviously plays on the ‘Back to the Future’ movies that began coming out around that time period.”

A Newcomer’s View

Town Manager Dave Schoeff, who is in his first year in the position, has never been to FunFest, but he is very excited to change that this year.

“In listening to folks that either work for the Town or are on different committees, I see and hear about all the time and effort that these volunteers are putting into this, and I couldn’t even imagine how many people have their hands in this in order to make it happen,” Schoeff said.

“First off, it’s impressive to me that all these people come together and make such a nice festival,” he continued. “That’s a great thing for the community. Secondly, I’m kind of excited to see how many people it brings into town, because I’ve heard it brings quite a few, which is a testament to the community and how attractive we are to outside people.

“I’m just excited to see everything that goes on and to meet a lot of new people that weekend. I don’t think people realize how much work it takes, and those of us that get to go enjoy it Wednesday through Sunday don’t really think about it once it’s gone.

“I’m sure a lot of the committees involved don’t take much more than a month off before they’re right back to thinking about next year’s event. By this time of year they’re really hitting it hard and putting in long hours to make it all come together, so we should thank them all because I’ve heard it’s pretty impressive.”

Many would agree with Schoeff in classifying the five-day festivities of FunFest as impressive, but Rager said she is also aware that maybe there are people that don’t embrace FunFest like the rest of the community.

“While there are some inconveniences that come with FunFest, there is a lot of good that results from FunFest for numerous organizations in this town,” she said.

“Manchester Early Learning Center has had a booth for years to help raise money, and obviously they’re in the middle of an active campaign right now for their building fund. Clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions and also a lot of local churches are afforded a unique opportunity to raise money during FunFest so that they can continue to carry out their good works throughout the year.”

Posted on 2015 Aug 04