Saturday, September 25

2010 Ionia Fall Festival Report

Saturday the 18th was the annual Fall Festival and Tractor Parade in Ionia, NY, the tiny town where I grew up. As a child, I remember Fireman’s Carnivals, kiddie parades, and socials all taking place in town and at the Fire Hall. The carnivals and kiddie parades have long since faded away, but a few socials do remain on the calendar - strawberry, ice cream, raspberry.

To have a festival in Ionia, centered at the Fire Hall, is like having all the great memories come back. They even have the old cake wheel in service - I won a chocolate zucchini cake.

We arrived early enough to visit the tractor field - a large mowed field behind the oldest barn in town that is still standing - the Miller Barn - built by the Miller's who founded the town in 1789. Rows and rows of restored tractors from the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's. 104 of them in total - all lined up for people to look at. We wandered through the rows of red, green, orange and blue tractors, all shiny and gassed up, ready for the parade. Their owners were all mingling with the other tractor owners, discussing makes and models and what attachments could be acquired for which model.

The parade, all 104 tractors, started at 1pm and it was a fantastic show of history and mechanization. Our little boy was in his full glory - he is obsessed with tractors - and he loved every minute of the parade. He also got to go on a hayride, towed by a shiny John Deere, later in the afternoon which was a thrill.

The rest of the day was filled with eating chicken barbeque, browsing at the used book sale and enjoying the pygmy goats on display from Rader's Ranch, a local farm. They did not have the alpacas or the police dog demonstration, as they did at last year’s festival, about which I was disappointed. I was looking forward to buying some nice alpaca yarn for a new winter hat.

The whole day was filled with fun and history and memories. This great, tiny, old town and the revival of the Fire Hall carnival grounds (and the cake wheel!), the people lining the streets for the tractor parade that showed numbers not even seen for the Memorial Day Parades, and just seeing all those people out and enjoying the day.

This great bumper sticker was on a van:

I am a very nostalgic person. I long for the past. For the good old days. I may never again have the Ionia Fireman's Carnival with the pick-a-duck game and the old metal rides for little kids, and I will miss them and what they represented. But as long as I can go to the Fall Festival and see the town getting back some of what it once had, I will be content. Historical tours are a part of the day’s events so people will not forget the history of this tiny NY town. It does not have a stoplight at the four corners in town. Not even a flashing yellow light. The flag pole dedicated during WWII stands there, in the grass on one side. I think that is all it needs.

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