WAVERLY – There’s one constant that people expect during Waverly Heritage Days.
The free annual event takes over Memorial Park and the Fairgrounds for a weekend in the summer and has always brought great music.
The tunes have achieved a certain level of familiarity and are representative of the theme of the 35th annual festival, The Beat Goes On, for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“We usually have nine bands and it just seemed like a good fit. We rarely lose anyone and it shows the blow continues,” said Darwin Rittgers, co-chair of the Heritage Days committee.
Rock ‘n’ roll band Vic Ferrari are in the midst of their retirement tour, having played there for 19 of the last 21 years.
“We’re honored to have them here one last time,” Rittgers said.
Variety troupe Boogie and the YoYoz and rock group Stackhouse have also become regulars and will be back.
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This year the festival will also welcome two newcomers, the University of Northern Iowa’s New Horizon’s Band and Meskwaki Brown Otter Singers.
“It’s the first time the Brown Otter Singers have come up from Tama County, and they’ll be here in their native attire, singing and doing a drumline routine,” Rittgers said. “They attend very few events, so this is extremely rare.”
Many attendees appreciate the wide variety of music and food, the parades that draw hundreds each year, and the family-friendly activities at Overman Park.
A time to celebrate
To join the fun, most of which is this Friday and Saturday, enter “515 Fifth Avenue Southwest, Waverly, Iowa 50677” into your GPS.
It’s likely that a person will find something other than music to keep them occupied.
The main celebrations begin on Friday at 4:00 p.m. with the car show, bouncy castles and food and craft vendors.
A total of 25 craft vendors will accompany 10 different food stalls, roughly double what is normally on offer. There will be a range of offerings such as traditional barbecue, walking tacos, Brazilian food, mini donuts, shaved ice and ice cream.
“There should be more variety,” Rittgers said, “a taste for everyone.”
He pointed out that an “Art and Wine” event on Friday at 5 p.m. will attract those interested in drinking and painting. In addition, the Bremen district pork producers are giving away 100 free burgers that evening.
After a soft opening, Waterloo’s newest attraction is operational and ready to handle the crowds, say owners.
The Show and Shine Car Show has attracted around 80 to 90 vehicles this year, including some classic pickups and motorcycles.
Later on Friday at 7:00 p.m. the worthy partners of the Hall of Fame – Waverly Walmart, Rotary Club and the municipal airport – will be recognized.
The parade is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Everyone is allowed to walk or bring a giant wagon, a vintage car or even a horse. No registration is required. The line-up begins at 8:30 a.m
Dozens of attendees will meet at the Waverly Sales Co. Barn (2212 Fifth Ave. Northwest), travel down Fifth Avenue Northwest, and then down Sixth Street Southwest to Memorial Park.
The prizes are awarded by First National Bank.
The fireworks will take place 12 hours later on the same day and will start around 10pm
And of course there is so much in between.
“Heritage Days bring a sense of camaraderie and have become a destination festival for much of Iowa,” Rittgers said. “We attract people from so many places, which shows we’ve come a long way since our first time when it was just an evening.”
He said the event will draw 15,000 people from 65 Iowa counties and 11 states over the three days. And class and family reunions continue to be held.
“It’s just a time to celebrate,” he said.
Although the event is nearly 40 years old, Rittgers highlighted some new and traditional activities to expect.
The Hwy 218 Cornhole will host a professionally run community pocket tournament at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, open to anyone and everyone.
The Lions Club Pancake Breakfast takes place on Sunday mornings from 7am to 12pm at Waverly Airport.
At the same time, the “Fly-In” event takes place, where participants can watch pilots landing and taking off in their small planes.
Rides are also offered for a small fee.
More information about Waverly Heritage Days is available online at waverlyheritagedays.com.
Photos: Waverly Heritage Days Parade