Homecoming Festival again a success –
Story and photos by Patricia Beech –
Crowds gathered along Main Street in Winchester on Sunday, Aug. 27 for the Grand Parade celebrating the village’s second annual Homecoming Festival.
The parade was led by Grand Marshal, Ray DeVore, a life-long resident of Winchester and a successful member of the village’s business community.
“I’ve probably lived here longer than most people,” said the 80-year old bachelor who still lives in his childhood home, “It’s quite an honor to be chosen.”
The two-hour long procession also included the festival queen and her court, several floats, a marching band, vintage cars and tractors, residents in historical garb, and plenty of candy-tossing to wide-eyed kids who lined the procession’s route.
The street fair, formerly known as the Winchester Caramel Festival, has been a tradition in the village for more than six decades.
Started by the American Legion Post to support widows of soldiers who didn’t return from World War II, the festival quickly became known for its signature caramel popcorn which is now prepared by the village’s volunteer fire department.
“Everybody’s glad the caramel corn is still here,” said firefighter Jerry Sweet. “We intend to keep the tradition going for a long time.”
Fire Department Lieutenant Joey Ford said the department was hoping to beat their sales record from last year – 300 pounds of caramel corn.
“Last year we really did well, thanks to the American Legion guys who came out to help us,” said Ford. “They worked with us and showed us how to do it, that really made a big difference.”
The festival opened Friday evening with the selection of the festival Queen and her court. Haven Dunseith, a senior from North Adams High School was crowned Queen.
“It means everything to me to be chosen to represent Winchester,” she said. “I’ve dreamed about it since I was a little girl.”
After graduating from high school, Dunseith says she plans to study Early Childhood Development at Southern State Community College before transferring to Shawnee State to pursue a career as a Kindergarten teacher.
Also included in the Queen’s court were: First Runner-Up Paige Denlow, Second Runner-Up Jalyssa Carson, and Third Runner-Up Madison Jones.
The three-day long festival offered up a full slate of activities ranging from musical venues, to sporting events, to inflatables for kids, antiques and collectibles for adults, and the nightly horse and buggy Ghost Ride to the village cemetery.
“We had great turnouts for the Ghost Ride,” said Patsy Roberts, who heads up the festival’s steering committee. “Everyone really seemed to enjoy the show.”
The Ghost Ride featured village residents in period clothing, portraying figures from Winchester’s past. This year’s event featured the talents of Joyce Porter as narrator; Becky Osborne as narrator; Lillian Barry as Bernice Kendall Short; Rae Jean Campbell Maddox as Hester Johnson Short; Zachary Roberts as Civil War Soldier James Thompson; Zayne Roberts as Civil War soldier William McClesney; James Streight as Civil War soldier Thomas Davis; Jude Endicott as Miriam Anabel Kirk Bryan; Christine Engelkamp as Geneva Holmes Kendall; Caryl Shelton as Mabel Rouse Short; Kenny Shelton as Civil War soldier Charles Clowe; and Patsy Roberts as Annie Burns Mechlin.
Community members were generous in their support of the festival.
Cindy Tolle, a mother who attended Sunday’s parade with her children said, “The festival has been really entertaining this year, the kids are having a great time, and that’s really what it’s all about.”
Antique and vintage tractors were also featured during the 2017 festival including: A rare 1917 International Harvester Titan owned by Wendell Kelch of Clermont County; a 1917 Waterloo Boy prototype owned by Dan Thomas of Plain City, Ohio, which later became the John Deere D tractor; and a 1923 Waterloo Boy tractor owned by Rick Stegbauer from Fayetteville, Ohio.