The bells of four Hoagland churches will ring simultaneously at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 17, to open the community's signature summer celebration.
Hoagland Days returns after a year off for the pandemic. For three days, the community will celebrate the 53rd such festival, at Hoagland Community Park.
"I am super stoked. I can't wait," chairwoman Heather Anderson said. "They're predicting good weather, so I think we are going to have a good turnout."
Traditional festival highlights await visitors again in 2021. For many visitors, the food court is the favorite stop.
Anderson first volunteered at Hoagland Days 14 years ago, working with the food booth operated by the Heritage High School football team. Her association with the festival continued when she no longer had a child on the team, and she was promoted to festival chairmwoman three years ago.
"I have a great group of volunteers who do a lot of stuff behind the scenes making sure things are in order for this year's festival," she said.
Food court hours are 5-10 p.m. Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday and noon-11 p.m. Saturday. Count on St. John Flatrock Church offering the popular chicken gizzards, plus poppers, mozzarella sticks, deep-fried pickles and bottled water. Heritage football will offer sausage sandwiches. Heritage basketball will bring breaded tenderloins, chicken strips and more. The Boy Scouts will sell taco salads. Zion Lutheran in Decatur will offer meatball kabobs and more. St. John Emmanuel School will sell pulled pork. The ladies guild of St. John, Bingen, Decatur, will sell hot dogs and coney dogs, ice cream floats and more. The Hessen Cassel School eighth grade will sell popcorn and kettle corn variations to fund their school trips. And of course the Lions Club will sell ice cream. Anderson said to expect a wide selection of desserts. Find details on Facebook, at Hoagland Area Advancement Association - HAAA.
"Due to COVID we're spreading out our picnic tables this year, and we'll also be dining inside under the air conditioning," she said.
Anderson said Jessop Amusements will participate for about the fourth year. "They're bringing rides and games, just a various amount of amusements for our festival," she said. "They have really stepped up the game. They have really pleased us with the services. It's a clean amusement company."
The Hoagland Home Goods vendor section promises a bounty of crafts, wearable items, T-shirts and tumblers, and goods for the home. "Something has exploded," Anderson said. "You could get your Christmas shopping done with 25 weeks left before Christmas."
While the carnival rides are for everyone, a time has been set aside for a Sensory Fair from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. "This is my personal favorite this year," Anderson said. "We have special guests coming in, children with sensory disorders. We will turn the lights off on the rides."
Also in that time slot, Miss Allen County and other state and loyal pageant royalty will visit for a meet-and-greet. Also from 2-4 p.m., Sweetcakes Entertainment brings balloon art and face, arm and hand painting.
Parking will be available on the grassy area for a small donation to the Heritage cross country program and the HAAA for park improvements. Proceeds from the festival itself also go to the HAAA.
It all benefits the park, Anderson said. "The park is used a lot. We have baseball and softball leagues," she said. Also, the indoor community center is available to rent.
The festival gets off to a quick start Thursday evening, with children's activities, a corn hole tournament, and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament presented by the Heritage basketball team.
The demolition derby starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 6:30 p.m. Saturday. "We have so many cars," Anderson said. "I expect this to be our biggest demolition derby we've had in a long time." Admission is $10 for ages 13 and up, free to ages 12 and younger.
The public will chose the Hoagland Days Prince and Princess. "A penny will get you a vote for your favorite royalty contestant," Anderson said. Winners will be crowned. at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The parade steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday. High school bands play as they march.
Get the full list of activities and sign up for contests through links at Hoagland Area Advancement Association – HAAA on Facebook or at hoaglandin.com.