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Steady Attendance at 5th Annual Yellow River Festival

June 7, 2011

06/08/11  The sun shone brightly on the banks of the Yellow River this past Saturday, where the 5th Annual Marshall County Yellow River Festival treated visitors to a day of fun in the newly-named River Park Square.

Despite weather forecasts for both heat and thunderstorms, the festival proved successful. “The attendance stayed steady all day,” said festival organizer Teressa Welborn, noting that over 1,000 people attended.  As they were educated and entertained, festival-goers enjoyed a variety of food and drinks sold by local non-profit groups.

The Boy Scouts provided children’s activities including a Monkey Bridge, skillet-shooting gallery, obstacle course, and more. Troop 257 Scoutmaster Robert Celmer estimated that more than 200 children participated.

Many people visited the “Arts and Crafts Show and Sale” hosted by the Arts Council of Marshall County.  ACMC President Ed Pullen observed a steady stream of festival-goers peruse and purchase art and locally hand-made crafts appropriate to the Yellow River Festival’s focus on the river and mid-1800s life.

All ages also enjoyed “Johnny Appleseed,” who roamed the park and shared his pioneer tales and folksy wisdom in two half-hour segments at the education stage. The stage also featured presentations by Dr. Tom Buchanan, Kurt Garner, Marianne Peters, and the “Huckleberry Queen” (performed by Anne Liechty), who captivated the audience with tales of her exploits in Northern Indiana.

 A “Liars Bench” took over the education stage , too, with participants Mayor Mark Senter, mayoral candidate Jim Vinall, Welborn, and Tom Keb sharing vivid descriptions about old-fashioned tools. Audience members voted on which story they thought most realistic, with each “liar” trying to convince listeners his or her story was true.

At the Entertainment Stage, local musicians Yesterday’s News, Shakin’ Hammers String Band, Liza and Mark Woolever, Marshall County Women, Pay the Piper, Marcy Prochaska, and Prairie Dogs provided strong performances. One of the region’s most well-known bands, Gold Mine Pickers, satisfied bluegrass and Americana fans with a blistering mid-afternoon set. The other headliner, Kennedy’s Kitchen, moved their show inside to Opie’s at the City Center due to rain.

Winter Hawk Drum, an annual favorite, delivered Native American music and dance twice. The festival’s focus on nature and Native American culture appeals to local resident and Native American educator Norman Rhoades. “I was born and raised on this river… it’s part of my life and who I am,” said Rhoades, who has traveled up and down the river many times. “It’s important that we have the waterways of our ancestors…[who] traveled these waterways for food, trading, and transportation.” Tim Jordan, a Southern Cherokee Nation member who drives up every year from Peru, agrees. He is glad the festival provides a venue where “some of us native people can come here and demonstrate herbal remedies” and other traditions. “It’s a good education for children…they remember these festivals.”

Joel Thomas Correspondent

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