JUNIATA — Villagers in Juniata are hoping that their resurrected street festival, “Juniata Days,” will once again become the much-anticipated event it once was.
Slated for Friday and Saturday in and around Main Street, the two-day fun day includes a fireworks show, parade, softball tournament, street dance, inflatables, craft show, and other attractions.
Kayla Edwards, festival committee member, said the theme for this year’s event is “Juniata Strong,” a theme that mirrors the statewide theme of “Nebraska Strong,” in reference to the state’s enduring spirit in the wake of severe flooding this year.
“We’re hoping we can start it as an annual event again,” Edwards said. “The last time we had a Juniata Days was 1996 for the 125th centennial. We just want to bring it back and provide some money and stuff for the village to use on a variety of things and try to better our community.”
It was the collaborative efforts of Ryan Hughes, event committee chair, and John Edwards, Kayla’s husband, that led to the event’s resurrection this year, Kayla said.
“They were talking and said, ‘We need to bring it back,’ and finally decided to get it going,” she said. “Many years ago it was an annual thing and then it kind of simmered down, went for one or two more years and died off again. We’re hoping to bring it back for many more years.”
Community feedback suggests that they are not alone in that sentiment.
“We’ve had a very good response,” she said “We had a meeting last night (Monday) for anybody who wanted to volunteer and we probably had 20 people show up willing to help. And that was in the middle of a rainstorm.
“Our Facebook page has also had a great turnout, as well. We’re looking for a good group (to attend).”
Sponsors have stepped up to the plate as well, with several area businesses pitching in to make the event possible, she said.
“We started out with zero dollars in our account trying to put this together,” she said. We really wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the sponsorships.”
The all-ages event kicks off with a Fireworks spectacular at dark (roughly 9:30 p.m.) on Friday night at the ball field presented by Juniata Fire Department.
The fun continues Saturday at 8 a.m. with a 10-team, co-ed softball tournament at the ball field. A parade on Main Street at 9 a.m. will feature two fire engines from Juniata Fire Department, with longtime residents Darrel and Marilyn Stormer serving as Grand Marshals. Parade entries are encouraged to preregister online at the Juniata Days 2019 Facebook page or simply show up to participate, Edwards said.
“We didn’t want to turn away a little kid who shows up on a bike and wants to be in it,” she said.
Inflatables and kids games will be offered in the park by the tennis court from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
A craft show featuring numerous vendors will set up shop at Adams Central Preschool also from 10-5.
A car and tractor show will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Plainsman parking lot. For dinner, a barbecue competition will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the fire hall, with entries served to the public on a free will donation basis.
A corn hole tournament will be ongoing throughout the day at TJ’s Pub on Main Street.
The event continues at 6:30 p.m. with a street dance and beer garden on Main Street through midnight, with live music performed by Alexa Chynner and Soul Preachers. Admittance is free, with drinks provided by the Plainsman restaurant.
While certainly intended to draw community members together, Edwards said she hopes Juniata Days becomes an attraction that draws people from all over. The more, the merrier.
“We’re hoping that the surrounding communities will support us as well,” she said.