Elkhart celebrates Route 66 over Labor Day weekend

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[September 05, 2017]  ELKHART

This year the fall festival season kicked off with a brand new event held at Elkhart. The Elkhart Route 66 Festival kicked off on Friday evening and continued throughout the day and evening on Saturday.

On Friday evening highlights included live music, dinning at the Wild Hare Café, Art for sale, and the local shops were open for visitors including the County Bumpkin, Birdsong, and Horsefeathers.

The Route 66 Model Raceway and indoor slot-car track was open with competitions ongoing throughout the evening, and “Essential Oils” classes were held.

On Saturday morning the day began at 8 a.m. with a biscuit and gravy fundraiser hosted by the Elkhart Needs and Goals (NAG) committee for the development of the new Veteran Memorial Park in Elkhart. The park will be located in the courtyard between Horsefeathers and Richardson’s.

Throughout the day there was a petting zoo for kids, chalk art, and a free story teller at the library at 11 a.m.

For the grown-ups there was the offering of a car show, antique tractor show, plenty of shopping, food opportunities, and music provided by HI Tek Redneck DJ services.

Outside of Little Foxes the building was lined with panels of a Route 66 Elkhart mural under construction. When the mural is completed, the panels will be installed on the wall at Little Foxes. The mural project was under the management of Rene Sisk. At noontime, Warren Behrens was busy adding some fine details to the mostly completed mural, specifically he was working on one small corner of the mural adding horse and buggy details to a scene from the early days of Elkhart.

The mural offers up a colorful depiction of some of the town’s more notable buildings such as the Oglesby Mansion, the Elkhart Gillett Chapel, and the streetscape of the downtown area. There is also a nod to another well-known Logan County event with a hot air balloon floating across the sky. The Route 66 era is noted with popular in the day vehicles such as the Chevy cars from the 1950’s and the universally known Route 66 emblem. Another nod to the community is a wagon in the street filled with people waiting to go on a tour of Elkhart Hill.

Tours of Elkhart Hill were available on Saturday with local history re-enactor Bob McCue serving as the guide. The riding tour took guests up the hill to the historical Elkhart Cemetery, the final resting spot to many with historical significance for Elkhart and the home of the Gillett Chapel.

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The chapel was open for visitors with tour guides offering information about the chapel building, its historical value to the community, and also offering guests the opportunity to hear first hand hymns played on the 1890 pipe organ inside the chapel.

In the early afternoon, the guide at the chapel was Marcy Brooks from Greenville, Tennessee. Brooks said that while she is from Tennessee now, from 1996 to 2000, she lived in Elkhart and was involved with the historical society and committed to the community. She noted that she still comes back to Elkhart every chance she gets.

Brooks offered up information about the chapel, fielded questions, and led discussions about the little church. At the end of her segment, she sat down at the organ and played requests, which included “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Amazing Grace.”

Brooks shared information about the Gillett family and pointed out areas where the Gillett children are named within the church’s brick walls.

She also explained that the organ, an 1890 pipe organ is all original and has been very well maintained. She said the only “modification” the organ has had is that is it now electric operated, it was originally a pump organ.

She noted that the change had no impact on the quality of music, but had made it much easier to play. She said in its original state, the sound came out of the pipes a few seconds after the note had been played. She said the organist always had be conscious of the fact that what was being heard at the moment was not what he or she was playing, requiring a great deal of concentration of the part of the organist.

Back in town, the Route 66 Model Raceway was hosting youth and senior tournaments, with a good turnout. The youngster’s tournament was at 1 p.m. and the senior event was held at 2 p.m.

The afternoon also saw a parade of antiques with the focus being antique cars and tractors, and senior citizens.

Across the street from city hall a barbecue contest began at 1 p.m. and there was also to be a pie contest. A rummage sale was scheduled at the Fellowship Community Center hosted by the Methodist and Catholic Churches.

Photo by Rebecca Drake

Live music returned at 2 p.m., a talent contest was scheduled for 5 p.m. and the evening closed with a street dance.

Throughout the day, the tours were popular, as were the races at the Route 66 Model Raceway, and of course, shopping throughout the wonderful shops in Elkhart.

[Nila Smith]

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