Otwell’s July 4 celebration a community affair

By RILEY GUERZINI
news@dcherald.com

OTWELL — Otwell has been synonymous with Fourth of July mainstays like parades, cookouts, rides, ice cream and cornhole since 1957. But with this year, comes many changes to the annual Otwell Fourth of July Celebration.

For the first time in the event’s 62-year history, the town will host a special needs night Wednesday, with rides available at no charge.

“These are individuals who normally don’t get to ride rides or experience some of this stuff, so we basically got the rides shut down just for those individuals,” said Andrew Houtsch, president of the Jefferson Township Ruritan Club, which hosts the celebration.

Rides will be closed to the public so any individual with special needs will be able to attend with two guests for free starting at 6 p.m. Any additional guests will be charged $5 each.

The event will be followed by a garden tractor pull at 7 p.m., which is open to the public.

This year’s parade on Thursday will be grand marshalled by the 1969 Otwell High School boys basketball sectional championship team. The parade will begin on Highway 257 at the former Otwell Elementary School and move through the town.

Players, coaches, student managers and cheerleaders will all attend to celebrate their 50-year anniversary when the parade kicks off at 10 a.m. The State of Indiana will present a concurrent resolution to the team following the parade at 11:15 a.m. in the Otwell Community Center gym. A Q&A session with the team will be held at 2:30 p.m. in the gym.

“That’s a great accomplishment for Otwell High School being the size that the community is,” Houtsch said. “I’m proud to be able to honor them and celebrate their 50-year anniversary.”

Also new this year, a concert from bands Joe Nobody and One Night Stand at 7 p.m. Thursday. The bands will play until dark, at which point the fireworks will be fired off. Both bands will return afterward and play into the night.

A car, truck and tractor show will make its debut this year. The show is opne to all makes, models and ages of cars, trucks and tractors. The winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Saturday night.

Admission to the celebration is $10 per person each day, with free admission to ages 2 and under. Admission is only necessary for rides and events. Food, homemade ice cream, fireworks, bingo and raffle ticket purchases will not require admission.

Grounds will open at 11 a.m. Thursday, 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday, but rides will shut down from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Thursday and Saturday.

“We picked that time because that’s usually the hottest time of the day and usually not a lot of people want to go on rides when it’s 100 degrees outside,” Houtsch said.

Houtsch said the Ruritan Club switched to a new ride company because they were looking for another option that offered more variety and something for all age groups.

Returning this year is the third annual Firecracker Volleyball Tournament. This will also be the second year for the Stars and Stripes Cook Off Contest, featuring chicken, ribs and the cook’s choice. The celebration will also feature the Firecracker Demolition Derby with a mini car class, bone stock class and old school metric class.

Houtsch said he receives help from club members and more than 30 volunteers to make the celebration possible.

“Without their help, we would not be able to pull this event off,” he said. “There’s at least a full month of prep beforehand to even make this event possible.”

The celebration is the Ruritan Club’s biggest fundraiser of the year with money going to club operations, providing assistance for locals and funding two scholarships every year for graduating seniors from Pike Central High School.

“The profit we make from this celebration is what lets us help the community the most,” Houtsch said.

The event brings in anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people from various states and counties across Indiana, tripling the population of Otwell.

“It’s a pretty big celebration for a small town,” he said. You’ve got a lot of people that take great pride in being able to put a celebration on like this for the size of town Otwell is.”

Pre-registration for any of the events is available online at www.otwelljuly4th.com, as well as the full list of activities. Further information about the celebration can also be found on their Facebook page: Otwell 4th of July Celebration.

Fourth of July Celebration schedule

Wednesday

6 p.m. Rides open for Special Needs Night

7 p.m. Garden tractor pull

Thursday

10 a.m. Parade

11 a.m. Grounds, raffle and rides open

11 a.m. Barbecue chicken and rib dinners begin

11:15 a.m. State of Indiana honors 1969 boys basketball sectional championship team

1 p.m. Firecracker baby contest

2 p.m. Local truck and tractor pull

2 p.m. Children’s pedal pull

2 p.m. Bingo

2:30 p.m. Meet and greet with 1969 boys basketball sectional championship team

2:30 p.m. Rides close

4 p.m. Rides reopen

7 p.m. Concert featuring Joe Nobody and One Night Stand

8 p.m. Fireworks

Friday

4 p.m. Grounds, raffle and rides open

5 p.m. Bingo

7 p.m. Firecracker volleyball tournament

7 p.m. Battle of the Bluegrass pulling series


Saturday

8 a.m. Stars and Stripes cook off contest

10 a.m. Car, truck and tractor show

11 a.m. Grounds, raffle and rides open

12 p.m. Cook off contest sampling begins

2 p.m. Bingo

2:30 p.m. Rides close

3 p.m. Cook off contest sampling ends

4 p.m. Rides reopen

5 p.m. Registration opens for cornhole tournament

6 p.m. Throwing begins for cornhole tournament

6 p.m. Cook off contest winners announced

6 p.m. Car, truck and tractor show winners announced

6:30 p.m. Firecracker demolition derby

9 p.m. Raffle winners drawn




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