Festival full of old-time fun
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent June 29, 2012 2:28PM
Joe McClendon (left), of Gary, and David Faitak, of Portage, Ind., compete in the pie-eating contest at the 25th annual Portage Community Historical Society festival at Countryside Park on Saturday, June 23, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~For Sun-Times Media
For more on the Portage
Community Historical Society, go to www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~inpchs/, or call
762-8349, or 762-1675.
Updated: August 2, 2012 6:25AM
Countryside Park offered a step back in time during the 25th annual Portage Community Historical Society festival.
Held on the grounds of the park June 23, the event offered a showing of classic cars from members of the Winamac Old Auto Club, the Wolfgang Singers of Hobart High School singing tunes from the 1940s, and pie- and watermelon-eating contests, among other festivities.
The event started as an all-American picnic, held the weekend before the Fourth of July. Over time, said Wanda Samuelson, the historical society’s president, the festival has changed along with the grounds.
The construction of a museum in 2003 meant the Trager House, built in the early 1900s, could be displayed as an old farmhouse, since the museum’s contents moved to the new building.
“The festival does predate the museum. When we started, the museum was in the house,” Samuelson said, adding an old barn on the site burned down several years ago and has since been rebuilt.
The festival has expanded, too, offering a wide array of entertainment, as well as children’s activities and vendors. The event draws hundreds of people each year, Samuelson said, and many stop by to see the museum’s different displays.
“There’s something comforting about being able to say, ‘This happened when I was a certain age,’ and people remember that,” she said.
The festival is always a draw for Dorothy Elkins and her family. This year, Elkins, who was going to do a demonstration on churning butter, brought along her daughter, Denise Grinder, and Grinder’s grandson, Tyler, Grugel, 8.
Elkins and Tyler live in Portage, while Grinder now lives in Lake Station, but enjoys coming back to her hometown for the festival.
“I just love the people all talking and getting together,” she said.