CONNEAUT — Princess waves and full-body twirls got the Conneaut Fourth of July Festival off to a quick start on Thursday afternoon at Lake View Park.
Contestants for the Little Miss Liberty, Little Miss Firecracker and Miss Fourth of July pageants took center stage around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday after a color guard opened the festival with the National Anthem around noon.
The festival has roots all the way back to 1886 at the same park where horse races, baseball and many other games were contested, said present festival director Marty Landon.
The contestants had the opportunity to answer a number of questions and waved to the crowd while twirling during the contests.
“I want to be a missionary because I love to train the world and tell people about God,” said Elizabeth Hamm during the competition.
“Little Miss Liberty” winner was Jacklyn Burdick in the 3-5 category; Vivianna Celini won the “Little Miss Firecracker” competition (6-10) and Riley Whittaker was crowned “MIss Fourth of July” (11-16).
The festival continues all weekend and will include fireworks, visible from the park, on Saturday night at 10 p.m. He said the rumors that the fireworks aren’t going to happen are not true.
Excessive rains did cause the site to be moved from the sandbar area to Conneaut Township Park beach. “There will be a perimeter maintained,” Landon said.
Visitors should arrive early because people come from near and far, Landon said. “They start showing up at 8 a.m. setting up their chairs,” he said.
Landon said he receives calls from many states as former residents seek to coordinate their vacations with the festival. “I’ve been getting calls from Pittsburgh, Steubenville and California,” he said.
The rumor about the fireworks has drastically affected donations for the fireworks. “We need donations desperately. The rumors of cancellations has dropped donations to almost nothing,” Landon said. He said people may call him at 440-862-3973 to make donations.
A Fourth of July parade will be today at 7 p.m. with units lining up on Depot Street prior to the walk down Broad Street to the park, Landon said. He said there are 90 units scheduled to participate.
“It (the parade) has been growing every year,” he said.