Holiday goes retro in Hope

If the Independence Day event in Columbus was techno and metro, the one in Hope on Friday night was decidedly retro.

The annual Old-Fashioned Independence Day celebration in northeastern Bartholomew County drew an estimated 1,000 people, each of them getting a chance to step back in time to celebrate the nation’s 240th birthday.

Bluegrass singer Denise Kocur, originally a Banister and still lead singer for the Banister Family Bluegrass Band, opened their concert by taking the Hope crowd back to 1951 when she asked a question originally posed by Hank Williams, “Hey, good lookin’ … whatcha got cookin’?”

The answer in Hope was not “Jambalaya,” the group’s second song of the night, and a Hank Williams hit from 1952.

Rather, it was fried Alaska pollock, a fish from the cod family, that had 30 or more people consistently waiting in line for a generous helping cooked by Hartsville Volunteer Fire Department chief Ed Johnson and friends and served up under a tent staffed by other volunteers.

Johnson said they expected to sell 450 sandwiches before night’s end at $5 a piece, with all proceeds going to the Yellow Trail Museum, which organizes the Hope festival.

Elsewhere on the Hope Town Square, hungry people picked out hot dogs, chili dogs or pulled-pork sandwiches and fruit crisp with ice cream for dessert.

A food theme began earlier in the evening, when prize money was on the line as competitors vied for homemade apple pie-baking bragging rights — and $25 to boot for the winner.

Aydan Carnine, 12, of Hope, had been baking different pie recipes all week, looking for the one that would guarantee her first place, said her mother, Chasity Carnine.

She found it as the children’s division winner. Hardly a novice, she has been baking regularly since age 8, mom said.

Betty McQueen has been working her way up the ladder in the contest’s adult division — earning honorable mention her first year, leapfrogging to second place last year and making the winning pie in her third attempt.

She, too, was experimenting.

Mixing up two apple pie recipes, the original entry seemed to have too much cinnamon, so she added an extra apple, McQueen said.

Pulling a Peyton Manning, the 84-year-old Hope woman said she’s going to retire a champion.

The event opened with 21 kids riding on bikes or in wagons decorated in red, white and blue — every one a winner, with a free ice cream float awaiting each of them at the Yellow Plate Museum.

With temperatures in the 70s, a pleasant breeze and hundreds of colorful fireworks bursts to conclude the night, everyone went home a winner in Hope.