COVINGTON — Covington’s annual Fort Rowdy Gathering will return this Labor Day weekend, bringing with it a mix of modern festivities with a side of the Ohio Frontier.
“This is the 26th year,” Anita Hawk, publicity chair for the Fort Rowdy Gathering, said. “We’re real pleased we’re able to continue having Fort Rowdy.”
From Saturday, Sept. 1, through Monday, Sept. 3, the gathering will take place at Covington Community Park.
Opening day ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. on the main stage in the Covington Community Park. The invocation will be given by Graham Furrow. Following the flag raising, the Covington Marching Band will play the national anthem and Johanna McGrath will lead the singing of “God Bless America.”
The gathering will also be host to A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” star John Godwin, who will be the featured speaker during the community worship service on the main stage in the park on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. The service will be led by Fields of Grace Worship Center. The gathering will also offer a worship service led by Carl Ward on the encampment stage at 9 a.m.
“It’s great it’s been able to go on this long,” Hawk said. “It’s free to get in, and all of our concerts are free.”
The gathering will offer a variety of activities for children. The Covington Kiwanis Club will be sponsoring a Children’s Kraft tent again with the following activities: tin punching, beading, coloring and Indian headbands. Hours of operation of the children’s activities booth will be from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and noon to 3 p.m. on Monday.
Lucky the Clown will be twisting balloons again this year. Attendees can visit him on Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. and Monday from 1-3 p.m.
Over at the Fort Rowdy Tradin’ Post, they will be selling limited-edition, turtle-shaped medallions for $5 each, commemorating the 26th year of the gathering. The Tradin’ Post will also be selling T-shirts, sweatshirts, cookbooks, and CDs. Activity schedules, concession lists, and rules for upcoming contests also can be picked up at the Tradin’ Post.
The first and second editions of the Fort Rowdy Gathering cookbooks will also be for sale at the Tradin’ Post for $12 each. The Friends of the Fort Rowdy Gathering Cookbooks contain recipes, stories, and photos from cooks and storytellers.
The annual Fort Rowdy Gathering Auction will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday on the Encampment Stage. There will be a variety of items, including handmade goods. Auctioneer Rick Bair will be presenting the lively event.
Attendees are also invited to check out the historical encampment side of the gathering.
“Cross the 208-foot portable bridge that spans the Stillwater River entering into the bygone years of the late 1700s,” Fort Rowdy Gathering Chairman Annette Miller said in her chairman’s welcome. “In this encampment, the visitors will find campers living as they did in that era, enjoy the aroma of campfires and food being prepared over the open fires. Visitors can watch campers participate in games of the same era.”
Attendees can watch frontier games or a canoe race, make a purchase from one of the period vendors, or make a swap with one of their blanket traders.
“It’s a good learning experience,” Hawk said.
Attendees can also listen to the entertainers on the encampment stage or ask campers about frontier life or their camp set-up.
The gathering will also be holding a contest for photos taken during last year’s gathering. Contestants should stop by the Tradin’ Post to enter the contest, and other attendees can also stop by the Tradin’ Post to cast their votes for a photo. Entries should be of the 2017 Fort Rowdy Gathering and must be 5-by-7 inches, unframed, and turned in by noon on Saturday at the Fort Rowdy booth by the Friendship Bridge. Public voting will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday and end Monday at noon. The winner will be announced Monday at the closing of the festival.
The gathering will have a variety of crafters, vendors, trade demonstrators and camp traders on both sides of the river.
“You can find some very unique items,” Hawk said about the shopping available on both sides of the gathering.
Some of the merchants, demonstrators, and traders in the encampment area include: Rebecca Baker from Bakers Primitive Candles; Dustin Baker from Mountain Man Blacksmith; Donnie Vance with beads, rendezvous supplies, knives, and toys; Dawn Lowman from Sally’s Primitives; Frank Rouse from Brooms by Frank; Bruce Ronner from Crooked Finger Weaving; James Moody from Uncle Jimmy’s; Denver Wilson, a blanket trader; Pathfinder Music, a blanket trader; Rhonda Burgess, a blanket trader; Bob Cruikshand from Iron Wares.
Some of the vendors on the park side are: Stitcher’s Cabin with clothing period style, jewelry, hats, and hand-stitched leather; The Box Maker with handmade wooden boxes, furniture, toys, and boxes; Grandma’s Soap & Stuff with soaps and tea; Pat Sampson with crocheted towels, dishcloths, and scrubbies; and Dawn Shimp with LuLaRoe items.
The event also offers a shuttle service. Parking for the gathering will be at a Covington High School parking lot, where people can follow the signs to the correct lot. Shuttles will run every 15 minutes between the school and the gathering. Parking assistance will again be provided by Miami Valley Mounted Search and Rescue.
The shuttle schedule is: Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Labor Day from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“I would like to thank all of the board members, campers, family, volunteers for all their hard work in making this event a success,” Miller said. “Come and enjoy making new friends and memories.”
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com