Food, festivities, and fun abound this weekend as the annual Wauseon Homecoming fills Fulton Street today through Saturday.
The year is featuring several new events to complement the festival’s time-honored favorites. Homecoming activities begin today at 5 p.m. and close at midnight Saturday with a grand prize drawing.
According to Homecoming Committee spokesperson Jamie Myers, visitors can enjoy a performance of the VIP Express Clog Dancers on Friday from 6-7 p.m. at the intersection of Fulton and Elm streets. At 7:30 p.m., they can watch a demonstration by the K-9 squads of the Wauseon Police Department and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office on the east side of the city’s historic Train Depot.
New events on Saturday include Tano’s Pizza’s inaugural Pizza Eating Contest at 3 p.m. in the parking lot at the Barber, Kaper, Stamm, McWatters and Whitlock law firm, 124 N. Fulton St. The free contest will be limited to 12 people on a first-come, first-served basis; a sign-up sheet is available at wauseonhomecoming.com, and if any slots remain they must be filled by 2 p.m. Saturday. The contest is open to anyone age 14 and older, although contestants under 18 must receive their parents’ permission. All contestants must sign a liability waiver to participate.
At 4 p.m. Saturday, Ice Creations and Leahy Legacy Custom Carvings, both of Napoleon, will present ice and wood carving demonstrations, respectively, at the intersection of Fulton and Elm streets. The owners of both businesses were born and raised in Wauseon.
Returning is the annual Homecoming Queens Pageant, beginning 8 p.m. tonight on the main stage. Candidates include Rylee Wreede, Monica Betz, Carisa Hoffman, Karli Callahan, and Rylee Hull.
Four local bands will duke it out at Battle of the Bands on Friday at 7 p.m. on the main stage. The musical match will include The Step Brothers, Black Order, Third Wheel, and Spudnuts.
On Saturday, the traditional Homecoming Parade will begin at 11 a.m. at the corner of Leggett and Fulton streets; line-up begins at 10 a.m. The parade will end on Elm Street at Shoop Avenue.
Other stalwart events include: the Kids Zone, with pony rides, a petting zoo, Big Wheel races, and inflatables; a Teen Dance featuring Loco Sounds on Thursday from 8-11 p.m. in the parking lot adjacent to Circle K, 248 N. Fulton St.; and live music Saturday evening on the main stage, this year by Frank Pollzzie, Kick Start, and Sugar Frog.
Children’s rides will be provided by Big O Entertainment of Florida, and about 20 food and merchandise vendors will fill the midway. Bingo tents will also be available.
The Wauseon Lions Club 3 on 3 Tourney will be held Thursday for grades 4-5, Friday for grades 6-8, and Saturday for grades 9-12. The games start at noon each day at South Park, with an entry fee of $80 per team. Entry forms are available on the Homecoming website.
The annual raffle will offer a $10,000 grand prize; second to seventh prizes, in order of presentation, include: a custom golf cart sponsored by Richards Repair and Hanson Graphix; a 50-inch television sponsored by Farmers and Merchants State Bank; a Weber grill from Wauseon Ace Hardware; an iPod sponsored by Amerimade Realty; a Fulton County Fair package sponsored by State Bank and Trust; and $100, sponsored by State Bank and Trust.
Homecoming proceeds go to the Wauseon Park Board, with some donated to the city’s annual Christmas parade.
Myers said the Homecoming Committee has tried to infuse new energy into the festivities.
“We’re trying to more or less give it a facelift, gear it toward the younger generation, so we can have something for everyone,” she said. “We want family fun. We want to support the local parks through the festival.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.