The past year and a half has prompted patience, perspective and perhaps a newfound appreciation for change. Still, there’s something to be said for nostalgia, which is why it’s nice to be able to welcome back many activities and annual traditions that were put on pause last year. One of those is the Avon Community Heritage Festival, which started in 1998 and is all about celebrating and showcasing the community.
“When it first started, there were a few community members looking for something they could do to bring the community together because we didn’t have any celebrations at the time,” says Tracy Justice, human resources director with Washington Township, Hendricks County, and this year’s festival president. “This festival pretty much pioneered celebration in the community.”
It rained during the festival’s first year, but many people came nevertheless – a clear sign that the community was hungry for a gathering. It became a tradition that expanded into the annual tree lighting to welcome the winter holidays.
“The Avon Community Heritage Festival was really about bringing the community together so that local business owners could showcase their products, and then it expanded into the schools getting involved,” Justice says. “Each year we highlight all the great things we have going on in this community and enjoy it together.”
The festival returns this year on September 25, and while some things remain the same, other things have changed for this year. COVID-19 affected a lot of sponsorships, which means the event will not include the talent show, local choirs or dance teams. However, each year the board of directors tries to incorporate new ideas into the festival, so this year in lieu of the talent show, parade and bounce houses, they are including a 5K Color Throw and Color Fun Run. Participants can register to run individually or in groups of four or more.
“As you run, volunteers will throw color at you, and then at 6 p.m. runners will congregate by the amphitheater for a color splash where people will get their packets together and throw them all up for a color-bomb explosion,” Justice says. “We’re hoping for a beautiful, picture-worthy moment.”
Justice says the idea for the 5K was tied into the fact that for many, this year has been all about getting outside and moving, not to mention that Avon has a number of trails. The run will take place on White Lick Creek Trail starting at 4 p.m.
“This 5K may draw a new crowd as it appeals to those who love to gather for active events,” Justice says. “Plus, it’s a chance to work towards shedding those COVID-19 pounds while mingling with members of our community.”
Folks of all ages are welcome to sign up for the run.
“We thought the run was a fun way to celebrate the return of the Avon Community Heritage Festival,” Justice says. “Plus, there hasn’t ever been a color throw and fun run here in Avon, so we thought we might as well start one.”
As always, the event will include nonprofit, craft, and business vendor booths, but instead of being located on the lawn by the playground equipment, everything will be set up in the lower park where Festival After Dark has happened in previous years. The time of the festival is also different this year. In years past, the daytime portion of the festival took place from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. This year, however, festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. Vendors will be set up until 7 p.m.
“It’s always fun to see what the vendors have as they pass out a lot of free swag,” Justice says.
From 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., folks can participate via smartphone in a trivia contest, and winners will receive a prize. Following the trivia contest will be a special presentation to recognize the community’s essential workers. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. a beer and wine garden will be available. There will also be two food trucks and a dessert truck so that everyone’s palates will be pleased. At 7 p.m. local band Crowd Therapy will begin playing a selection of pop, dance, blues, country, R&B and rock cover tunes. Fireworks shoot off at 9 p.m. Deejay Shane Ray from WYRZ will emcee the event.
The community buzz surrounding the return of the festival is upbeat and positive.
“People are excited that we’re bringing it back,” Justice says. “They are ready to get out of the house and do something fun, and this festival is family-friendly.”
Justice is thrilled that organizers get to hold the event again, because perhaps this year more than ever, connecting with friends, neighbors and loved ones is important.
“I love being outdoors and meeting new people, and just seeing the joy on people’s faces,” says Justice, a six-year Hendricks County resident who decided to get involved with the board of directors after living here for a couple years because she yearned for community connection.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to get to know one another,” she adds. “If you’re interested in joining the board, send us an email and we can tell you how to get started. We’re always looking for new board members who can bring in fresh ideas.”
If you love live music, tasty food and creating great memories with your community, come check out the Avon Community Heritage Festival on September 25.
To register for the 5K run, visit avoncommunityheritagefestival.org. To share your interest in becoming a board member, call 317-745-0785 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.