MARIA STEIN – Visitors to the 2019 Maria Stein Country Fest June 21, 22 and 23 will see how 25 years of tractor square dancing is celebrated in this agricultural community.
Country Fest, one of the largest festivals in the region, is located at the grounds of the Shrine of the Holy Relics on 2291 St Johns Road, Maria Stein.
Country Fest President Jacob Tangeman said the men who choreograph the precision “square dance” moves of these 5,000-plus pound tractors wanted to do something special in this 25th year.
“They asked us if they could spend some money for their event,” Tangeman said, “and considering all they have done for the fest, we were glad to say yes.”
The schedule for all Country Fest activities can be found at http://www.mscountryfest.com/schedule.html.
Other new events this year are tug-a-truck and drag racing, a bike tour and a new acrobatic troupe called Johnny Rocket’s Cycle Circus.
Tug-a-truck is a machine tug-of-war and will follow the general rules of Hillbilly Truck Pulls in Spencerville. Drag racing for cars of any size also will be featured. Antique and high-powered custom tractors pulls will return to competition as well as a garden tractor pull.
The Marion Community Greenway Project is hosting a bike tour with lengths of 12, 25 and 50 miles. Organizer Dave Rengers said the event will help raise awareness and funding for the building of a new bikeway.
An Indiana glass blower will exhibit his skills.
“We get to auction off all he produces that weekend,” Tangeman said, “and we hope he can do a combined artwork with our longtime chain saw artist Tim Koenig.”
Tangeman said visitors also can enjoy past favorites like games of chance, bingo, good food, mechanical rides and free musical entertainment. The American Legion will have turtle soup, and The Knights of St. John will offer fried chicken dinners. Other concessions will feature sandwiches, homemade desserts and beer tents. There is a craft show and many other vendors offering thousands of items for sale.
He said last year’s rained-out Little Mr. and Miss Country Fest will be held along with the diaper derby and big wheel races.
New bands this year are Reflextions on Friday and Brother Believe Me Saturday. Another new entertainment event is Trivia by Good Time DJ’s. Double Shotz, a young group from Chickasaw, will make its debut.
Religious events include a Saturday mass with music by the Ranly Brothers. A Sunday Pilgrimage rosary and walk from St. Johns Catholic Church in Maria Stein to Relic Chapel grounds will be led by local clergy, The Knights of St. John and the American Legion. The Heritage Museum and Gift Shop will be open for sales of religious items.
Tangeman said the Country Fest is dedicating this event to Rustic Hope, a Russia non-profit group that helps women taking care of their new babies. He said the proceeds from the auction of a chainsaw woodcarving will go to its cause.
Tangemen emphasized that none of the activities at Country Fest would be possible without the sponsors and hundreds of volunteers.
“Thanks to who all help” he said.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.