Fireworks, dodge ball, and turtle racing

Fort Loramie Liberty Days Festival runs from Friday through Sunday

By Tom Stephens

FORT LORAMIE — The Fort Loramie Liberty Days doesn’t plan to go out with a bang this year. Instead, it’s going to start with one.

Organizers made the decision to move the annual Liberty Days fireworks display to just after sundown on the opening night of the festival on Friday, July 1, instead of closing the festival with the display. The Fort Loramie Liberty days runs through Sunday, July 3.

Gina Boerger is on the committee that organizes the Liberty Days and said that the festival comes so close to the annual Country Concert, which is scheduled for the following week, that extra pressure is put on the committee to get things just right, hence the decision to move the fireworks display to opening day.

“It’s a crazy time, just hectic,” Boerger said of the close timing of the two events. “But is good kind of craziness.”

All the scheduled events will take place at the Fort Loramie Youth Park, located in the downtown area of the village.

No self-respecting civic festival would be complete without a coronation, and the Liberty Days is no exception. The Miss Independence contest, which Boerger said was first initiated in 1968 and predates the Liberty Days by about two decades, is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the entertainment tent. The Little Miss Independence is planned for noon Saturday.

Several events that were new to last year’s Liberty Days were so popular that organizers brought them back of the 2016 gala. The list includes the reading of the Declaration of Independence on Friday to open the festivities. Ken Schwartz, who was a history teacher of Fort Loramie for 30 years, did such a wonderful job reading the document last year, Boerger said, that the decision was made bring him back this year in the hopes of starting another Liberty Days tradition.

Also making it back this year is the Junior Trivia challenge, which was such a hit that the committee expanded the format to allow twice as many teams to compete as did last year. Each team is made up of from one to three members in grades 4 through 6. Boerger said that Fort Loramie Education Association, which sponsors the challenge, is coming armed with a complete set of new stumpers for this year’s competitors. The format will be similar to that found on Jeopardy!, with increasingly difficult questions coming with a higher point value. The first question will be asked at 1 p.m. Saturday and cash prizes are awarded to those in the know.

Another contest that made it back on the schedule because of its popularity is the Kids Lip Sync contest, which kicks off Sunday at 1 p.m. Open to kids from kindergarten to high school, participants get to strut their stuff while lip syncing to Taylor Swift or Tim McGraw. Boerger said that this has been a huge hits with the families of those in sync.

“It’s a fun, entertaining event,” Boerger said of the Lip Sync Contest. “The parents and grandparents of the kids really love it.”

The adults get to get in on the fun, too, Boerger said. The Liberty Days committee has a horseshoe contest scheduled for Sunday and opened up the dodgeball tournament to mom and dad. Also on the card is a mandatory co-ed volleyball tourney, which given Fort Loramie’s penchant for bringing home state titles in the sport, ought to make for a very interesting afternoon.

Throw in sack races, a hula hoop contest, a water ballon toss, a three-legged race, DJs, balloon animals, a petting zoo, bounce houses, live entertainment, a kiddie tractor pull. a cutest baby contest, and lots of fattening food, and you have a festival worthy of the name.

“The dodgeball tournament really big thing for the kids. the high school kids actually get to play against their parents. They both love it.”

Boerger said that she was proud of the fact that the committee is committed to keeping the Fort Loramie Liberty Days family friendly.

“My kids can go there and have a lot of free things to do,” Boerger said. “Just going from event to event watch is a lot of fun and doesn’t cost anything. We don’t want you to have to spend a lot of money just to have a good time.”

The live entertainment comes in the form of Kevin and the Others, who hit the stage Friday. Tricky Dick and the Cover Ups headline Saturday, while Saw Creek will close the Liberty Days Sunday. Show time for all three acts is 8 p.m.

We had one last question for Boerger. Will there be turtle races?

“Of course!” she said enthusiastically. “It wouldn’t be Liberty Days without turtle races.”

Fort Loramie Liberty Days Festival runs from Friday through Sunday

By Tom Stephens

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

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