By ROD KING
For IN|FW Newspapers
GRABILL — Tranquil Grabill, the “friendly little town” of 1,000 people, knows how to throw a festival. They should! The Grabill Country Fair, which is set to kick off Thursday, Sept. 5, and run through Saturday, Sept. 7, will be their 47th. It’s not only a fun event, but is a chance for the town to highlight its Amish heritage.
The thousands of visitors who converge on Grabill every year are never disappointed with the food, the fun activities, the wide array of craftsmen and the entertainment. There’s something for everyone.
At the top of the list is enjoying a beef and noodle dinner at the Fondergong building. And, the fair is the place to have apple dumplings, fresh corn-on-the-cob and apple butter. Nobody will leave Grabill hungry.
The fair is also the place to find beautiful wood and glass home accents. A total of 130 booths will line the streets. If you’re in the market for a whirlybird, this is the place to find it. There will be blown glass objects, picture frames, candles, dolls, ceramic villages and more. Do your Christmas shopping early while the weather’s good and while enjoying the fair’s other activities.
This is a traditional fair featuring judging of everything from fruits, vegetables, flowers and canned goods to art, wood crafts, knitting, quilting and needlework. Prizes will also be awarded for the largest gourds, cantaloupe, watermelon, sunflowers and corn stalks. The exhibition hall is located in the Grabill Missionary Church and that’s where everything will be displayed and judged. This is where visitors can see whether their garden produce measures up.
Theme of this year’s parade is Blue Jeans and Country Scenes. It will start at 10 a.m. Saturday. Awards will be given for the best floats, utilization of the theme, animal entries, commercial entries and best marching unit.
Make a corn husk doll, watch wool being spun into yarn and horseshoeing demonstrations. Participate in cross-cut sawing and nail driving contests. Kids can enter a spelling bee, frog jumping, jump rope and watermelon eating and cherry pit spitting contests.
Jug Huffers will start things off the entertainment at the Main Stage Thursday evening at 6 p.m. with their special brand of mountain, bluegrass, old-time, traditional and original music. They’ll also be strolling throughout the festival Friday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Following them on the Main Stage Thursday at 7:30 p.m. will be bluegrass music of Red Eye Gravy.
Main Stage activity Friday evening will be Schaefer and Russell (wind instruments and guitars, respectively) at 6 p.m. with their renditions of popular jazz instrumentals and original compositions. At 7:30 p.m. keyboardist Chris Worth will take the stage with songs ranging from rock ‘n’ roll, country, R&B to Motown, jazz and popular Sinatra and Nat King Cole ballads.
Two groups will be featured on the Main Stage Saturday, as well. First at 6 p.m. is Dan Heath singing a wide range of music from the 1950s and ‘60s. Heath grew up in the Grabill/Leo/Cedarville area. Aaron Stutzman and Country Road will take the stage at 7 p.m. for some good old bluegrass tunes. The group, which formed in 1997, is from Columbia City.
The Mimetime Stage will present choreographed contemporary Christian music by four mimes from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
In addition to the Jug Huffers, The Chain Gang Barbershop Quartet will be strolling throughout the festival from 6-7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.
There’s something for everyone at the Grabill Country Fair.