Hope to host 48th annual Heritage Days Festival

HOPE — Bartholomew County’s largest and oldest multi-day festival returns this weekend for the 48th annual Hope Heritage Days.

This year’s theme is “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” lyrics from the 1977 Fleetwood Mac song that was popular across the land as Hope Heritage Days was wrapping up its first decade.

Heritage Days typically is more about embracing this past, and in this case the song pays homage to a beloved community leader from its recent past.

Larry Simpson, former CEO of Heritage of Hope, Inc., — which puts on the festival — died on the event’s final day last year. He was also editor, publisher and owner of the Hope-Star Journal newspaper, which ceased publication shortly after Simpson’s death.

Simpson — when he wasn’t working at the weekly newspaper or being a cheerleader for Hope — was also an avid Fleetwood Mac fan, said Michael Dean, who stepped in as CEO of Heritage of Hope.

Simpson had even acquired the stool that drummer Mick Fleetwood used as a prop on the cover of “Rumours,” the rock band’s platinum-selling album.

After hearing the tribute band perform, organizers — including Simpson — discussed booking Rumours: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac for this year’s festival.

Since the real Fleetwood Mac was Simpson’s favorite musical group, “we felt compelled to follow through with this in his honor,” Dean said.

The tribute band’s performance is scheduled for 8 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday on the Jackson Street Main Stage.

Hope and a prayer

From 6 p.m. Friday though 6 p.m. Sunday, visitors can take in competitions, presentations, exhibits, a parade, food, fireworks, family fun — and more musical entertainment.This year’s line-up includes Southern and contemporary gospel, bluegrass, ’70s rock and two tribute bands, said Chuck Caldwell, vice president in charge of entertainment.Caldwell said organizers brought back the Columbus Clogging Company from the mid-1980s, and resurrected Dr. Hope’s Medicine Show, an attraction that began in the late 1960s when Hope Heritage Days was launched.

Dean said that in looking to history for prospective attractions, organizers found not only the medicine wagon, but also Dan Artis’ teepee from Montana, which will be on display as Thelbert Mings’ had been in the past.

Festival numbers

Numbers jump out during Hope Heritage Days.Much of the town’s entire 2,100 population pitches in to volunteer.More than 120 craft vendors set up booths.

Close to two dozen non-profit food vendors participate.

About 30,000 visitors stream into town over the three-day weekend.

And event proceeds — just shy of $150,000 in 2014 — are channeled directly back to the community’s non-profit organizations, most of which look to the festival as their biggest fundraiser of the year.

One such organization is the Art Guild of Hope, a small-but-growing group with fewer than two dozen members.

Member Rhonda Bontrager said the 2014 festival netted the guild more than $1,000. It is planning a silent auction this year, with original art items displayed in the Hope Visitors Information Center, with bids due by Sunday noon.

Local firefighters are also hoping to raise some money this weekend. As usual, the Hope Volunteer Fire Department will have its fundraising fish fry during Heritage Days at the fire station, just off the Hope Town Square at 728 Harrison St. The department is among 17 food vendors, each serving something different than the 16 others.

Chief Bruce Neal is one of 15 full-time volunteer firefighters on the department. Established in 1912, the department had hand-drawn apparatus shortly before World War II, Neal said.

“We never had any water in town until 1935, and then they built a truck to take advantage of the fire hydrants,” he said.

Skipping ahead 80 years, the fire department will have some of its equipment in this year’s parade, Neal said.

Fastpitch favorites

The Heritage Days Parade, which last year had 77 units, will march off at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Parade marshals will be the 11- member Hauser Jets fastpitch softball team, crowned Class A Indiana state champions.The Jets defeated Carroll in the June 13 championship game, claiming Hauser’s first girls state title. No prior Hauser girls team had won even a regional until then.“They’re really excited, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” coach Craig Sims said, noting the girls are scheduled to receive their championship rings the same day.

If you go

Hope Heritage Days Festival

Where: Hope Town Square, Indiana Road 9

Food: 17 vendors, each with exclusive sales of their type of dining.

Attractions: Free concerts and presentations, free parking.

Information: heritagedays.org

FRIDAY

  • Illuminate, Bandstand, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
  • WYGS Gospel Sing, Hauser High School, 6:15 to 9 p.m.
  • Ablaze, Bandstand, 8:30 to 10 p.m.

SATURDAY

  • Heritage Classic Cross Country Meet, Town Square, 9 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Pioneer Village, Jackson Street, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Heritage Classic Trophy Ceremony, Bandstand, 11:30 a.m. to noon
  • Justin The Artistic Horse, Jackson Street, noon to 3 p.m.
  • UTOPIA Wildlife Rehabilitators, Bandstand, noon and 1:30 p.m.
  • Kiddie Tractor Pull Sign-Up Starts, Pioneer Village, 12:30 p.m.
  • Dr. Hope’s Medicine Show, Jackson Street, 12:30 p.m.
  • Kiddie Tractor Pull Heats Start, Jackson Street, 2 p.m.
  • The Torpedoes (Tom Petty Tribute Band), Main Stage on Jackson Street, 6 to 7:30 p.m. (Rain location: Hauser High School)
  • Rumours A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac, Main Stage on Jackson Street, 8 to 9:30 p.m. (Rain location: Hauser High School)
  • Fireworks Extravaganza, Jackson Street, 9:30 p.m.

SUNDAY

  • Worship Service with Hope United Methodist Church, Bandstand, 9 to 9:15 a.m.
  • Columbus Clogging Co., Bandstand, noon.
  • Presentations, Bandstand, 1:30 p.m.
  • Parade Flyover, Reviewing Stand, 2:15 p.m.
  • National Anthem, Reviewing Stand, 2:25 p.m.
  • Annual Heritage Days Parade, Reviewing Stand, 2:30 p.m.
  • Parade Trophy Presentation, Bandstand, 5:30 to 5:45 p.m.
  • Community Worship with The Cross of Hope, Hauser High School, 6 p.m.