Tipp City’s 59th Annual Mum Fest

Photo: The parade Saturday will help honor past and present service members

By Ehron Ostendorf

The smell of fresh food wafts through the air of a warm, September day. Sunshine peaks through the trees of the Tipp City Park where over two hundred venders rest. T-shirts, blankets, arts and crafts, and a large variety of food is being sold at the annual Tipp City Mum Festival. It has everything that a Midwestern city festival should have. The festival possesses a general rustic vibe, while also maintaining a particular elegance with the downtown areas being covered in decorations from drawings to potted chrysanthemums — the flower that the festival is named after.

This is the Mum Festival’s 59th year running and the theme for the festival is dedicated to service members both past and present. “This year and for many years to come, I hope you join me in honoring these very special men and women in a variety of uniforms!” says Dave Bechtol, President of the Mum Festival.

Bechtol has been the president of the event for five years running. He is a retired Senior Naval Officer, so dedicating this event to service members hits home for him. Coach for Tipp City youth sports, judge for the Queen’s Pageant, and government contractor for WPAFB, Bechtol is more than involved with the community. He is also Co-Chair for the Mum Fest parade and the Sponsorship Coordinator for the festival.

The events begin on the weekend of Sept. 22 (a Friday) and kick off at 4 p.m. with the largest car show in Ohio. With roughly 800 vehicles attended in 2016 and adorning the downtown streets, it makes for quite an impressive display.

“The Mum Festival is not just a single event occurring on a weekend in September,” Bechtol says. “We consist of a series of events put on by the Festival Committee or local groups.”

They hosted their Mum Festival Queen’s Pageant last May 24. So as Bechtol says, there’s more to the festival than a single weekend. But a great many of the festivities take place on the September weekend. On Saturday the 23, the festival begins the day at 8 a.m. with the “Run for the Mums 5k” where the winners are bestowed with none other than chrysanthemums. The Mum Festival Parade follows the 5k soon after at 10 a.m. where you can expect boisterous bands playing, Shriners with their tiny cars, and a continuing theme for the “Honoring Our Heroes.”

“We have a lot of great merchants and food vendors,” says William House, Esq. from Lovett & Lovett Co., LPA. “The parade this year is scheduled to feature police and military vehicles.”

Next is the “Little Mr. and Mrs. Mum Contest” at 1:15 p.m. where children have the chance to participate as contestants for a costume contest. This year’s costume theme lines up with the theme for the festival. All contestants receive a prize for participating, but winners will receive the honor of riding in next year’s 2018 Mum Festival Parade. It will be quite the adorable event.

“This has been a long running Tipp City tradition, I enjoy hearing where it started, what it is today, and can’t wait to see what the future holds,” says Michelle Cook, Sr. GOTC Rep. at LexisNexis. “The Mum Festival brings people together.”

The day melts away into its first entertainment headliner — Michael Christopher. This is where people take their time to explore all the vendors to grab some food and browse merchandise while listening to some great music. People come and go through the shops and get to experience local people and what they’re bringing to the table this year. There are usually locally made items within many of the stalls, so local businesses are going for the win.

“Seriously, my favorite part of the festival is the family atmosphere we work so hard to maintain,” Bechtol says. “We have a small town feel, in a tree covered park that just gives a more relaxed feeling than being on the paved downtown streets like most festivals.”

Sunday the 24 begins with the “Jr. Run for the Mums”  — children with ages ranging from 5 to 12. Now, they’re not required to run a 5k, luckily. The children may have what seems like limitless energy, but that’s still a little much for them. The distance varies each year depending on the participants. They’re split into age groups so that a 12-year-old isn’t pitted up against a five-year-old. The Mum Fest wants all kids to not only have fun, but also for the race to be fair. All kids receive a ribbon for attendance and the winners are awarded a prize.

After the Jr. Run for the Mums finishes, the day leads into the second entertainment headliner of the weekend — The Blue Leafs. This is where, once again, people are encouraged to grab food and peruse the vendors. The Mum Fest officially ends at 6 p.m. on Sunday the 24, so make sure you plan your visit accordingly to see all that you can. And maybe, I’ll see you there.

The 59th annual Tipp City Mum Festival will run Sept. 22 – 24 at the Tipp City Park, 35 Parkwood Drve, Tipp City, 45371. For more information, please visit www.TippCityMumFestival.org/.

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Ehron Ostendorf
Reach DCP freelance writer Ehron Ostendorf at EhronOstendorf@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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