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Firelands Festival a hit

By ELLEN SIMMONS • Sep 10, 2016 at 6:00 AM

NEW LONDON — The weather for New London’s 108th Firelands Labor Day Festival could not have been better, and all the weekend’s activities went off without a hitch.

Mayor John Martin could be found throughout the festival handing out refrigerator magnets celebrating the village’s 200th birthday. Also, he walked in Saturday’s parade dressed in frontier-style clothing.

Nearly 125 runners/walkers finished Saturday’s 5K, with Curt Joppeck leading the pack and finishing at 18:54. Kailyn Williams was the first woman across the finish line with a time of 21:53. Both are just 14 and attend New London High School, which bodes well for the high school cross country team.

The Rotary-sponsored parade featured 60 entries, and the overall winner was the New London Public Library float celebrating the 100th anniversary of the library. Other first-place winners were After Hours, the Norwalk Kiwanis club, Danielion, the Jarabek family and Bruce Rookstool. The winners of the Rotary lottery drawing were Laura Wilson, Joanne Wray and Manuel Matarrita.

In the chili cook-off Melisa Brinker placed first, Jim Gregory came in second and Troy Green was third. Sandy Loyer won the Garden Club’s drawing.

First place winners in the kid’s sack race were Paden Smith, Mason Heydinger, Camden Stevens, Zeannah Yoder, Madi Maple, Cody McKeon and Monte Maple. Other kid’s games included the water balloon toss, the three-legged race, the egg and spoon race and the frog jumping contest.

Besides the dozens of other winners of the kid’s games, there were hundreds additional winners during the festival. Some participated in the truck pull, the demo derby or the tractor pull and some played softball, corn hole or horseshoes.

Probably the biggest winner for the weekend was the village park system. The parks receive no tax money, so revenue comes from camping, building rental and other means, with the majority from the Firelands Festival.

As this year’s festival concluded with the traditional fireworks display, most agreed this was one of the most successful festivals ever and 2017 will be even bigger and better.

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