Morenci’s Town and Country Festival unfolds Thursday for a three-day run at Wakefield Park. Activities begin with the opening of carnival rides at 5 p.m. Thursday and conclude at midnight Saturday with rap singer HiZe.
Thursday: Morenci Fire Department members will demonstrate extrication of a victim from an automobile accident at 7 p.m. Thursday on the Kiwanis Little League field. The demonstration will show the possible consequences of texting while driving.
A karaoke service from Toledo will look for volunteers to climb the stage and show their stuff from 8 to 10 p.m.
That’s also the night of another old guys vs. young guys softball game—a contest that proved popular two years ago as a pick-up event.
Friday: A Corn Hole tournament gets underway at 5 p.m. Friday, along with the opening of the beer tent. A men’s softball tournament continues throughout the night.
The Battle of the Bands will begin on the tennis court at 7 p.m., followed by the annual arm wrestling championship.
The sand volleyball tournament was canceled due to a lack of participation.
Saturday: Saturday comes with a full schedule of events. It’s also the final day of the festival, with no events planned on Sunday.
The first event of the day is the horseshoe tournament at 10 a.m., scheduled on the east side of the park near the BMX track.
Carnival rides will start up at 11 a.m., the same time as the festival parade. This year’s parade will be led by motorcycles participating in the poker run.
Motorcycles will go on display around 5 p.m. at the park.
Chicken barbecue dinners will be served at the park concession stand beginning at noon. Corn hole contests start again at noon, with sign-up throughout the morning.
A dog show begins at 12:30 p.m. Judges will be looking for the cutest and most talented canines.
The Masonic Lodge from Fairfield will be back again this year with the CHIP child identification program. All of the identification items produced at the event are given to the child’s family. That includes a dental impression, DNA from cheek saliva, a color photograph, fingerprints and a voice recording.
The service is offered at no charge. Hours are from 1 to 4 p.m.
A bevy of young cheerleaders from a studio in Archbold will show off their skills on the stage at 2 p.m., followed by a fashion show at 2:30. Bridal and prom wear from Lacy’s Petals and Gifts will be shown on the stage.
At 3:30 p.m., the winner of the weight loss challenge, sponsored by Josh and Jill Baumgartner of The Spot, will be presented.
The two winners of the Battle of the Bands will perform Saturday starting at 5 p.m.
The Lost Nations Rodeo is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m., featuring barrel racing and bull riding.
The featured entertainment act of the festival begins at 8:30 p.m. when the Grape Smugglers band from Toledo takes the stage. The group will perform until 10, followed by the fireworks show around 10:30.
This year’s show will be presented by Miller Fireworks of Monclova, Ohio.
“We weren’t unhappy with the previous show,” said festival committee chair Sue Snyder, “but we were looking for something different.”
Miller promises a bigger show for the same cost—more bang for the buck.
Morenci’s rapper HiZe (Cody Long) will perform from 11 p.m. until midnight to wrap up the festival.
Festival committee chair Sue Snyder urges people to sign up for events right up until they start, such as arm wrestling, corn hole and horseshoes. No registration is needed for karaoke.
Morenci’s Town and Country Festival committee was looking for a return engagement from singer Charles Elliot, but when they learned he no longer lives in the area, the search started for another musical act.
Mike Fee of Morenci, who serves as the sound technician for the festival, knew just the ticket. Saturday night’s stage act is the well known Toledo band the Grape Smugglers.
The group consists of seasoned musicians who have played throughout the Northwest Ohio area as well as out on the road.
“We have all played and continue to play everything from small bars up to major concerts, opening for national acts,” said guitar player/vocalist Dave Stella.
The seven-piece group plays music from a range of performers including the Doobie Bros., Van Morrison, Delbert McClinton, Marshall Tucker, Average White Band, Eric Clapton, Sanford Townsend Band, John Mayall, Stevie Wonder and others.
In addition to Stella, members of the Grape Smugglers are Rick Thomas, guitar/pedal steel/vocals; Jon Diener, bass/vocals; Chuck Caswell, drums; Joe Martin, sax/flute/vocals; Tim Tiederman, keyboards/vocals; and John Grafing, trumpet.
Battle of the Bands
The annual Battle of the Bands begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the Town and Country Festival. Bands will set up their equipment on the park tennis court and each take a turn performing.
Votes by the audience will determine a People’s Choice winner and three judges (Sybil Diccion, Jerry Bach and Mark Pennington) will vote on a Judges’ Choice.
Bands will compete for $700 in cash prizes, with $350 going to each of the two winners. If a band wins both awards, the members take the entire $700.
Seven bands have signed up to compete:
• Adverse Enigma makes its third appearance at the battle. The Adrian-based group plays hard rock, rock and metal.
• Sugar Frog of Toledo plays a variety of musical styles.
• Variety Pak of Delta features classic rock and roll. Loyd Bell’s son Kevin is the group’s drummer.
• Trixy Disco includes former Morenci resident Roger Hagerman and is based in Kalamazoo. The group plays modern rock.
• Mouth Sown Shut, playing industrial/experimental music, has members from Adrian and Fayette, along with Alex Garwood of Morenci.
• Mental Breakdown of Adrian will provide the heavy metal touch for the competition.
• TBA still isn’t ready to announce a name. The Morenci band makes a return appearance for its classic rock tunes. This year’s members are Zac and Scott Phillips, Chris Cornelius, Michael Valdez, David Conolly and TJ Hutchison.
Judges will consider musical ability, stage presence, technical ability and professional attitude.
The two winners are scheduled to perform Saturday night from 5 to 7:30 p.m.