Saturday marks the 40th year for the Royal Bull Thistle Arts Festival in Fayette. There have been many changes throughout the years, but it remains the same home grown rural festival that celebrates a beautiful weed.
At 11 a.m., the parade begins at the south end of town and proceeds down Fayette Street to Railroad Street, which is at the end of the parade route. From there many people park their car or parade entry and go to the park for a bite to eat. To date the parade has many interesting entries. If you have an entry and have not let someone on the committee know, call 419-237-2830. or 419-237-3061.
The parade is announced at the stop light by Tom Molitierno and John Marlatt. These veteran announcers do a great job of telling about each entry in the parade and adding a bit of background and fun stories along the way.
Crafts, food booths, and entertainment are arranged in a kind of circle around the park. There are some interesting craft booths that feature some, one of a kind, arts and crafts from all over the area. A great variety of food, from barbequed chicken to bull thistle burgers and milk shakes, are available as you meander through the park.
There will also be a variety of pictures on display showing festivals over the past 40 years along with other interesting information from years past. Also for all visitors to enjoy will be the names of former Kings and Queens, Citizens of the Year and other interesting facts about previous Bull Thistle Festivals.
There is a special place where the Bull Thistle Committee will be located. This is the place where you can buy a T-shirt for $12. This table is also the place to register your bull thistle for judging. Some people like to observe the judging and watch as the wining entries are chosen. Information is available here and it is always fun to hear a story that you remember about an earlier festival. Organizers encourage attendees to bring a lawn chair for the entertainment and again on Sunday for the church service.
The Arts and Crafts will be setting up in the Normal Grove Park at 9 a.m. Organizers say there is a nice variety of crafts to look at and purchase. There are several new crafters that will be displaying their work as well.
Once again featured will be some of the arts from the Bean Creek Valley area in the special Bean Creek Valley Artists Booth. This booth will include items from a variety of artists and makers of homemade crafts from the area.
There will also be ball tournaments, open arm wrestling, an inflatable maze for kids and a special bale maze that is free for all ages.
The theme for 2017 is “40 Years of Bull.” The theme is to highlight a festival started by a group of people who were interested in furthering the positive things about living in the small town of Fayette.
Herb Woodard and Jim Marlatt were the two who came up with the name of the festival because it was funny to honor a weed, that even though it is the national flower of Scotland, is also a noxious weed that the farmers are always trying to get rid of. What better way to get “rid” of the Bull Thistles than to enter them in a contest where they might even win a prize.
Bull Thistle judging will take place at 1 pm. Each entry is judged on height, girth, number of blossoms, and the fibrous content of the stalk. There is also a booby prize given out for the least desirable entry. The coveted grand prize of a “Golden Hoe” is given to the best of show entry. Also the crowd can vote on their favorite. The People’s Choice winner will receive the Frank Wilson Award.
The Chicken Barbecue starts at 12 noon and as usual features the delicious chicken made by Port-A-Pit Barbecue. If chicken is not your thing there are other food options available throughout the park.
At around 12:15 p.m. introductions of the King and Queen, the Coloring Contest winners and the Citizen of the Year are announced from the stage.
Once again this year, Steve Snider is the emcee. Snider is a well known area performer, who is helped by his wife Tina to make sure that everyone enjoys the afternoon’s entertainment.
The opening performance will begin at approximately 12:30 p.m. after the introductions of the royalty and will feature Julie Cochran playing her bag pipes. This first set will also include The Coffee House Sampler, which will be a variety of people that perform at the Opera House during the winter. Their first set will be at 1:15 p.m. and the second set at 3:15 p.m.
Then at 2:30 p.m., Bob Pogue will be a feature performer. He will also close out the entertainment with the last set starting at 3:30 p.m.
The annual fireworks display, sponsored by Phantom Fireworks, will be held at Harrison Lake State Park. There is plenty of parking available at the park. The fireworks will begin at dusk. Organizers say this is one of the best fireworks shows in the area.
On Sunday there will be a Community Church Service in the Grove beginning at 10:30 a.m.