For more than two decades, the Washington Fair parade has served as the official kickoff to the five-day festival.
To recognize the two people who were instrumental in getting the parade started, the parade committee has selected Dave Wehmeyer and Judy Tobben as this year’s grand marshals.
Sheryl Siedhoff, parade chairman, said it was Wehmeyer, 1994 Fair chair, who came up with idea to start a parade. Tobben was tapped with organizing it that first year.
“We are so excited that Dave had the vision because the parade is something everyone looks forward to every year,” Siedhoff said.
“It’s also thanks to the direction of Judy, the first parade chairman, who got it going and laid the foundation for future parades,” she said. “It takes a lot of work to put on a parade and without these two people, we may not even have one today. “The parade has become another Fair tradition that I am certain will be around for many years to come,” she added.
This year’s parade will take place Sunday, Aug. 3, at 4 p.m. It is one of two pre-Fair events held. The other is a run/walk.
Sharing the spotlight with Wehmeyer and Tobben will be all of the past parade chairmen, who also have been invited to take part in the parade.
“Every year we select an honorary group to participate, along with the grand marshal, and we felt this was such a good tie-in to recognize everyone who has helped make the parade what it is today,” Siedhoff said.
The parade was started 21 years ago, but it had to be canceled one year due to a major rainstorm, so it’s actually the 20th parade. The Washington Fair also is celebrating a milestone anniversary — 85 years.
The grand marshals will be at the front of the parade in a special vehicle or float. The past parade chairmen also will be on a float or tram.
Siedhoff said planning for the parade is going very well. This year’s event will feature about 100 entries.
“We decided to keep the 4 p.m. start time, which is something we tried last year and it seemed to work out very well,” she said. “It also gives people more time to enjoy the parade after-party at the Main and Elm parking lot.”
The after-party, sponsored by the Chamber, will feature live music, food and refreshments.
It’s also where the parade winners will be announced at 7 p.m., said Siedhoff, who asks that groups have a representative at the after-party to collect their award. Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded to the top three floats.
The judges this year are Charlie Darling, a local artist; Stephanie Albert, an art teacher at Campbellton Elementary; and Chad Greife, an art teacher at Marthasville Elementary.
Among the parade entries will be the Fair queen candidates who will ride in convertibles and the 2013 Fair Queen and her court. The Fair Board also will participate along with the marching bands from Washington High School and St. Francis Borgia Regional High School.
Siedhoff said the Shriners will be returning with its Yomo mini patrol and the popular Bubble Bus that delighted parade watchers for the city’s 175th birthday celebration will be back both in the parade and out on the fairgrounds Friday, Aug. 8, from noon to 2 p.m.
Several floats from the 175th anniversary parade are expected to be in the Fair parade as well, along with Scout troops, dance groups, the Washington Brass Band, Ronald McDonald, 4-H and FFA groups, and many others.
Route the Same
The parade route and staging area are unchanged from last year.
The parade will begin at Circle Drive and High Street, near the city pool. It will travel south on High to Fifth Street; east on Fifth to Jefferson Street; north on Jefferson to Main Street; and west on Main, ending near the Main and Elm parking lot.
Two meetings are planned for parade participants — Monday, July 21, and Thursday, July 24, both at 7 p.m. at the Chamber.
Any group with an entry must send a representative to one of the meetings. The parade rules will be explained and lineup numbers passed out at that time.
Siedhoff said volunteers are still needed to help the day of the parade.
“We have about 20 people on the committee, but we can always use more help,” she said. Anyone interested should call Siedhoff at 636-288-2645.
“It’s really shaping up to be another great event,” said Siedhoff. “And we’ve ordered cooler weather again. Last year it was just beautiful, in the mid-80s and we’re hoping for that again.”
The parade theme is the same as the Fair — “Meet Me at the Fair.”
The Fair will open Wednesday, Aug. 6, and run through Sunday, Aug. 10, at the city fairgrounds.