Waylaid among other annual events last year by the uncertainty of COVID-19, the three-day Wauseon Homecoming is back in 2021 with all the traditional features festival goers have come to expect.
“We’ve been running ahead with it right along,” said Homecoming Chair Kevin Knierim. “Once we knew (last year’s) was canceled, we started making arrangements for the next one.”
And that next one, scheduled July 22-24 on Fulton Street in Wauseon, will feature all of the traditional Homecoming stops, including food and craft booths, rides for the kids, and live music over the weekend. Knierim said canceling nearly last-minute last year due to the coronavirus was hard to swallow, but the Homecoming Committee pressed forward.
“We were bummed out, but the team decided, ‘Let’s start focusing on next year.’ We’ve been running gung-ho ever since things started picking up this spring. We started pushing really hard, going with the planning,” Knierim said.
The festivities kick off Thursday, when the midway opens at 5 p.m. There will be a pork chop on a stick dinner, and musical entertainment at 6 p.m. by John Rodriguez on the north end stage and by TJ Hendricks, Olivia Fireman, and TJ Sloan on the main stage.
A major Homecoming event, The Queen’s Pageant, will be held on the main stage at 8 p.m. The court this year includes: Talia Gerlach, 14, freshman, performing a contemporary dance; Noelle Ringler, 17, senior, singing “Little Toy Gun”; Kallie Waxler, 14, freshman, performing a contemporary dance; Drue Roush, 16, incoming junior, singing “More Hearts Than Mine”; and Ann Spieles, 15, sophomore, performing a tap dance.
The winner will be crowned by 2019 Homecoming Queen Olivia Clark.
The midway reopens on Friday, July 23, and the featured meal will be a ribeye steak dinner.
At 6 p.m.,the traditional Battle of the Bands begins on the main stage, with featured acts Ophelia Rose, Yesterday’s Hero, Dazed, Self Reflect, Forgotten Realm, The Antones, and Scoop Miller.
A beer tent will be open nearby from 4:30-10 p.m. No beer is allowed outside the fenced area.
On Saturday, the annual Homecoming Parade will wend its way at 11 a.m. from South Park down Fulton Street, where it will turn onto Elm Street, and continue to Shoop Avenue. The parade will celebrate its first posthumous grand marshal, late City Council member Jeff Stiriz, who died unexpectedly in June. Stiriz’s family will represent him in the parade.
The day will also feature a barbecue chicken dinner, as well as a cornhole tournament, the latter to be held 1 p.m. in the Depot Street parking lot behind the Wauseon Chamber of Commerce building. Team registration starts at 12:30 p.m.; the team fee is $40.
Live music for the evening will include Moths in the Attic, 2:30-4:30 p.m.; Ryan Roth and the Side Show, 4:30-6:30 p.m.; Three 2 Many, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; and Distant Cousinz, 8:30-10:30 p.m. A beer tent will be open 4:30-10 p.m.
At midnight, the grand prize drawing for the annual Homecoming raffle will be held. Tickets are now available at one for $5; three for $10; and seven for $20.
Prizes include: grand prize, $10,000; second place, customized golf cart from Richard’s Repair; third place, 50-inch flat screen TV from Farmers and Merchants State Bank; fourth place, Weber gas grill from ACE Hardware; fifth place, iPad from Amerimade Realty agent Wanda Henry; sixth place, Fulton County Fair package from State Bank; seventh place, Skil 16-inch chain saw from Kenfeld Group; eighth place, $100 from Wauseon VFW Post 7424.
As usual, food vendors of all types will fill the midway, offering everything from cheese to iced drinks to elephant ears, “and anything else you want to have,” Knierim said.
Craft vendors will locate in a Fulton Street parking lot with such items as handmade crafts and prepackaged food.
And D&D Putting and Amusements of Continental, Ohio, will provide almost a dozen rides between Oak and Elm streets for both small and older children, thus eliminating the former “Kidz Zone” attraction.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.