TIPP CITY — This weekend, Tipp City will welcome thousands of visitors to one of the Miami Valley’s longest running fall festivals, the Tipp City Mum Festival.
This nearly 60-year-old tradition celebrates community with a parade, 5K run, and live entertainment, and features one of the largest car shows in the Miami Valley, and organizers have been hard at work making this year’s festival bigger than ever.
The festival kicks off Friday night with the annual cruise-in downtown, and continues Saturday and Sunday in City Park.
“The most important thing is the family ambiance of this festival,” this year’s festival president Dave Bechtol said.
Bechtol, a retired Naval officer and veteran of Desert Storm, had originally planned a theme to honor the military, but he decided that a theme honoring heroes could not exclude first responders.
This year’s theme, “Honoring Our Heroes, Near and Far,” pays tribute to those who serve their country in the military and those who serve their communities as law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel.
Mum Festival organizers focused this year on improving the aspects of the festival that everyone already knows and loves, Bechtol said.
Each committee was tasked with making at least two changes to their area of responsibility, which resulted in more scholarship money for pageant winners, moving the Little Miss and Mister Mum pageant to the weekend of the festival, and even more food vendor and merchant options.
“There’s going to be 250 booths. We’re packed, there’s never been this many,” Bechtol said. “For us, that’s big.”
Festival organizers also worked to bring in more and different food options, including gourmet pizza and a chef that will be making meals to order, he added.
“So there’s a little something for everybody,” he said.
According to Bechtol, this year’s parade will be one of the longest parades in recent Mum Festival history, with more than 100 entrants from all over the area. In keeping with the theme, the parade will include military and first responder units. It will be grand marshaled by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization Bechtol said is close to his own heart.
“It’s special to me, being retired military,” Bechtol said. The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday.
On the Friday night before the festival, more than 800 vintage and custom vehicles of all shapes and sizes take over downtown Tipp City for one of the biggest car shows the Miami Valley has to offer. The cruise-in begins at 4 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. Friday night.
Bechtol stressed that the Tipp City Mum Festical is a hometown event that everyone can feel comfortable bringing the whole family to enjoy. From the kids’ zone to the live entertainment and plenty of food, there’s activities for the whole family.
“It’s fun for everyone: kids, moms and dads,” Bechtol said. “It’s centered on family.”