A vibrant atmosphere was everywhere in Marshall County during the week. Numerous events, attracting dozens of people, took place.
One of those events was the beloved Rose Festival at State Center. Hundreds of people took the hike outside in warm weather for the annual event sorely missed by residents of its host city in 2020.
The Rose Festival made a comeback on Thursday, with a varying number of events each day. This was the 63rd annual festival.
Buffi Honeck, the festival director, said it was a relief to be able to host the festival at its traditional location after missing the event in 2020 due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the national anthem was playing at the start of the parade, I had tears in my eyes” Honeck said. “Thinking of all the hard work that everyone on the board puts into this, and just the time and effort and the chaos. Just for everyone to benefit, it’s going really well.
One of the festival’s flagship events is the Rose Queen, a pageant tradition that is one of the most popular in central Iowa. Event 2020 winner Sadie Clark drove a few cars behind 2021 winner Kalyn Polley in the Rose Festival parade on Saturday morning.
Honeck said the parade had fewer attendees than usual, but it was something she expected given the circumstances. She said there was concern that it was too short, but the parade still lasted almost 40 minutes.
After the parade, a number of vintage cars made their way to Main Street and the surrounding adjacent streets for the Rose Festival Car Show. The auto show was a popular attraction, allowing people to walk around and talk with car owners about their common passions.
The Bloody Mary Bar and Beer Tents were opened outside Road Hog’s Bar, where many revelers were found throughout the afternoon, having drinks and chatting with friends and family.
Across from the bar were various food vendors which included Maria’s Tacos, Appleberry Farms, Happi Lao and more. Funnel cakes were sold a few streets away by Kiwanis to support the Trojan Tots, while a pork burger lunch was served at the fire department. The main street was busy and Honeck said many festival visitors had compliments on how things turned out.
“Everyone was ready, they were ready to come back” Honeck said. “The different activities, the food, a lot of different compliments that we’ve heard so far and I think it’s been a success. I’m just glad everyone is stuck with us after not having last year, and people figured out, but it’s just nice to pick up this routine and get back to it.
While West Marshall’s baseball and softball played in the afternoon, another big event in downtown State Center was the KCBS BBQ competition. This was the 20th edition of the event, making it the longest-running KCBS competition in the state.
Two State Center natives attended the event – No Clue BBQ was entered by friends Kevin Dehner and Aaron Shipley, both 2005 West Marshall graduates. They said they entered it just for fun, to try and prove themselves against professional competitors. They got sixth place in the rib category, one of four categories by which the participants were judged.
The Bone-A-Fide BBQ was presented by Tim Kelley, another West Marshall graduate, and Pat Cahalan, Marshalltown graduate. The duo is a traveling BBQ team.
The Grand Champion of the competition was Darty-Q, an Ottumwa-based duo led by Dusty Ware and Sam Heinrichs. Hot Daddy’s BBQ of Minnesota has been named Reserve Champion. Both barbecues will be eligible for the KCBS World Invitational which will take place in November.
After a difficult year in which many traditions in the region were put on hold, the abundance of people attending the Rose Festival has brought the tradition of the state center back into the spotlight every year.
While the Rose Festival was going on, the annual Gladbrook Corn Carnival made a comeback. It lasted from Thursday to Sunday as well. Attendees were kept busy with the firefighters’ waterball contest, live music, fireworks, tractor rides, a parade, the coronation of Katy Thompson as queen of the corn on the cob and more.
Within the Marshalltown limits, there was a lot of activity on Saturday.
The much missed Kids Fishing Derby, hosted by the Izaak Walton League, took place at Riverside Cemetery. The purpose of the event is to reduce the number of fish in Riverside Pond.
Izaak Walton vice chairman Ed Moore said around 150 bullheads were captured an hour before the event ended.
Riverside Cemetery General Manager Dorie Tammen said she bought 200 hot dogs, but fewer than 50 children attended. She said this was because the event was on the same weekend as two nearby festivals.
Moore said the event normally attracts 70 to 80 young anglers, but this year has not been so lucky.
The festival activities haven’t stopped 8-year-old Andrew Ratte of Marshalltown, a lifelong fishing enthusiast. In fact, according to members of Izaak Walton, Ratte attracted fish at a much higher rate than most other anglers. His mother, Linda Ratte, said she thought it was because he baited them with bread before throwing in the worm and hook.
“They [her children] ask to do it every year ”, said Ratte. “They were very excited. We spend a lot of time fishing.
As the fishing tournament rolled on Saturday, the Marshalltown Rotary Club hosted the second annual food drive in the south parking lot of the Fisher Community Center. People could deliver non-perishable food or buy pre-assembled bags from grocery stores.