By David Hazledine
NORTH WEBSTER — This year marks the 75th anniversary of the North Webster Lions Club Mermaid Festival, and the theme of this year’s festival, which runs from June 23-26, is a nostalgic one, “Through the Years Celebrating the Mermaid Festival.”
Throughout the festival, the midway rides and vendors, again provided by BAJA Entertainment, will be open at the following times: 5 p.m. to close, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; noon to close Saturday. Wristbands may be purchased each day for $20 per person, with two on sale Saturday, covering noon to 5 p.m. and 5 p.m. to close.
From 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, June 23, the festival opens with North Webster Methodist Church’s Strawberry Festival on the festival grounds.
Also, for the first time at the Mermaid Festival, Kidbuck$ Game Show, an interactive kids game which randomly selects members of the audience to participate in wild and crazy games, will commence at 5:30 p.m. on Merlin’s Stage, with another performance at 9 p.m.
Be sure to be on Main Street at 6:30 p.m. for the Cutie Parade. After the parade, North Webster Lions Club bicycle give-a-way is at 8 p.m. on Merlin’s Stage, followed by a performance by Lion’s Karate Academy, the North Webster-based dojo teaching taekwondo, kobudo and aiki-jujutsu.
On Thursday, June 24, Kidbuck$ Game Show runs at 5:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. And if that is not enough fiduciary-themed entertainment, Lake City Bank’s coin hunt is at 8 p.m.
On Friday, June 25, North Webster Community Center hosts the Cutie Pageant at 7 p.m. Kids between the ages of 5 and 7 will have a chance to win up to $5,000 in educational bonds. The pageant is sponsored by North Webster Lady Lions and Shoop Sports and Youth Foundation Inc.
Also June 25, at 7:30 p.m., Inclognito Cloggers from Kelsey’s School of Dance in Ligonier will rhythmically stomp all over Merlin’s Stage, followed by Kidbuck$ Game Show at 9 p.m. Kidbuck$ is also performing at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Saturday, June 26, is the grand finale of the festival and features some of the most popular events. Power wheel races begin at noon on Washington Street along the south boundary of the festival grounds. Registration is at 11:30 a.m. and any child 8 years or younger may participate in the double elimination competition.
The 75th Mermaid Parade will “float” down Main Street at 4 p.m. Floats will represent any of the themes from years past. The roughly 1.5 mile route begins with the line-up at Effie Mae Street and will go north on SR 13 to just past the North Webster Community Center.
The Mermaid Festival Demolition Derby starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, and Kidbuck$ Game Show “airs” at 1:30, 3, 6:30 and 9 p.m.
At 7 p.m., Queen of the Lakes Pageant will crown new royalty at North Webster Community Center. The event is open to any unmarried young lady between 15-24 years of age and $5,000 in scholarship money from Shoop Sports and Youth Foundation will be divided between the queen and three runners-up. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children.
For more information, go to www.nwmermaidfestival.com or visit Mermaid Festival on Facebook.