Pop into Labor Day

Beavercreek Popcorn Festival, Beavercreek, Dayton, Ohio, USA. Beavercreek Popcorn Festival, Beavercreek, Dayton, Ohio, USA.

Beavercreek Popcorn Festival celebrates sweet and salty

By CC Hutten

Photo: The Beavercreek Popcorn Festival takes place Sept. 12-13; Stan Rohrer

Since 1987, the people of Beavercreek have gathered the weekend after Labor Day to celebrate community, popcorn and, this year, veterans.

“It started out like many things,” says John Engel, festival president of about three years. “Someone had an idea, got a group together and made it happen. It started out as a small event at the Belfair Country Store, and has morphed into what it is now.”

The festival was a proprietor, Gary Dice, and a popcorn machine in the parking lot of his store. Engel says a group of people took notice and wanted to take it to the next level, and create a community event.

“It was nurtured,” Engel says. “It grew. We’re improving things every year.”

Today, however, the popcorn festival is much more than a country store with a popcorn maker. For two days over 200 vendors participate annually, alongside an antique automobile show, a children’s area, a 5k and fitness walk and live entertainment throughout the entire event.

The 2015 festival theme is “Saluting our World War II veterans,” decided on by the festival’s executive board.

“It’s been 60 years since the end of World War II,” Engel says.  “Vets are passing away at an increasing rate and it is nice to honor some of the surviving veterans.”

Three veterans will hold “Kernel” positions, in which the special guests are celebrated as they oversee and “float” around the festival. The opening of the event is a flag ceremony and color guard performance as an official salute.

Engel says the team for the festival operates like a well-oiled machine, and that shows in the festival’s execution.

“I try to make sure everything we do is the best we can possibly do,” he says. “All the pieces, all the people, are the best at what they do. I’d like to think we have it all down pat.”

The festival grows steadily and subtly each year, typically without drastic change. The community values tradition, and that’s what the festival provides.

“Gary Dice owned Belfair Country Store and a big popcorn machine,” Engel says. “It’s just a theme he started with, and they took it from there. It’s a tradition.”

The Beavercreek Popcorn festival is sponsored by Miami Valley Hospital and Premier Health Partners, Indu & Raj Soin Hospital, RiverValley Credit Union, Drive Right Driver’s School, Russel & Company, Whole Foods Dayton, Ritter’s Frozen Custard and Drayer.

The Popcorn 5k and Fitness Run costs $20 to register either online or by mailing in. A T-shirt is guaranteed with registering before the event, but not on the day of the run. The top three male and female overall finishers will receive a cash award and top finishers in each age group will receive medals, all of which will be awarded at 10 a.m. on the festival main stage the same day. Runners of all ages are welcome to participate, and a children’s fun run will take place at 8:15 a.m. in which all child runners will receive medals.

The Popcorn Festival Car Show will begin 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 13, in Shoup Park, located at 1341 Meadowbridge Dr. The car show is invitational and open class event, meaning cars will be featured for viewing and participants are welcome to bring cars. The invitational classes are street rod, street machine, sports car, American classic, muscle car; the feature class is American Motors Corporation Muscle. Registration costs $10 at the gate and awards will be announced at 3:30 p.m. for the top 25 automobiles in the open class.

The main kick-off events are the 5k and car show, however, the bulk of the festival celebrates food, treats, special services, creative crafts and, of course, specialties made with popcorn. It also includes a children’s area with games, inflatables, contests and other various activities.

“The biggest draw is Beavercreek High School marching band because it has 250 members—it is the most well attended,” Engel says. “We have country groups, rock and roll, gymnastics, dancing. A little bit of everything to appeal to everyone, so to speak…and we’re always on the lookout for interesting food and craft booths, to have that collective ‘Mmm, that sounds good’ at board meetings.”

The featured entertainment this year is Ryan Roth and Comeback Special, a tribute band that honors Elvis Presley, consisting of 14 members with claims to authentically recreate Presley’s concert energy. The performance features Beavercreek citizen Ryan Roth as Presley, and will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12.

“The festival, what we do, puts a face on Beavercreek,” Engel says. “For people outside and from the city, they come to have an experience in Beavercreek. Good food, good times.”

The Beavercreek Popcorn Festival takes place Saturday, Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m and Sunday, Sept. 13, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dayton-Xenia Road, between North Fairfield and Meadow Bridge. Admission is free. The Popcorn 5k and Fitness Walk begins 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, and costs $20 to register by mail or online at itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=3144. The car show will take place Sunday, Sept. 13, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information, visit beavercreekpopcornfestival.org.

Reach DCP freelance writer CC Hutten at CCHutten@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer CC Hutten at ContactUs@DaytonCityPaper.com

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