UNION MILLS — What started out as a community effort to save a pond has grown quite a bit, as visitors will see firsthand when the 33rd annual Mill Pond Festival takes place weekend.
“You can see it on the banners and signs pointing in the general direction of fun in Union Mills,” said Mary Deering, one of the organizers of the event at Mill Pond Park on CR-400W, south of U.S. 6.
What started out as a “Save Our Pond” moneymaker for the community now attracted visitors from across the county and other nearby areas.
The pond, according to Deering, had filled in with sludge and choked with weeds since the 1950s and was no longer a viable asset. While doing studies on the condition of the pond, an air boat got stuck in the mire.
“Now it is a clean, environmentally friendly, body of water which is enjoyed as intended," she said. "Once the pond was saved, the name of the festival was changed to Mill Pond Festival as we celebrated the pond and its return to its original state."
Fishing off the pier and seeing another generation in kayaks and boats fishing on clear water is a plus, Deering said. The pond is is now stocked annually by the IDNR.
Located near the water, the festival offers paddle boat rides, a golf shoot out on the pond, and spectacular fireworks over the pond at dusk on Saturday.
Saturday’s events open with an 8 a.m. 5K walk/run from the American Legion, and a 9 a.m. Ducky Dash for children on Water Street. Registration for Skeet Shoot in at the North edge of the park is also at 8 a.m.
A parade to the park from the fire station, led off with the American Legion and followed by clubs, children and a band, will begin at 10 a.m.
By 11 a.m., concessions, food vendors, music (Scott Rosenbaum, Midnight Stitches and Hoosier Highway), a mechanical bull and pony rides will be in full swing through 4 p.m. Sunday. A Horse Shoe Tournament will be held at noon
Music will be offered all day and into the night. Music by NAWTY welcomes visitors from 9 p.m. until midnight in the covered pavilion adjacent to the Beer Garden.
A full breakfast will be served in the Conservation Clubhouse at 8 a.m. Sunday. Also on Sunday, car/motorcycle show registration begins at 9 a.m. with judging at 2 p.m. At 11 a.m. an instructor will conduct a safe BB gun instruction and shoot for youngsters.
Children are free to wander about playing games and enjoying a train ride through the park.
From noon until 4 p.m. there will be a music for everyone to enjoy or perform – the Mill Pond IDOL contest is noon to 2 p.m., with open karaoke and music until closing time.
“We welcome you to our festival and hope you spread the word for another celebration of our pride and joy, the Mill Pond and park,” Deering said.
The $1 parking fee goes to the South Central Community Schools.