The Morgantown “Our Proud Heritage” Bicentennial Festival was the forerunner of Colonel Vawter Day. The first one was held in May 1981. The Program for May 1982 shows so many activities. That year the President was Mrs. Jonny Clay, Vice President—Mrs. Melva Crain, the Secretary—Mrs. Nancy Zink and the Treasurer—Mr. Ezra Satter. The festival ran from Sunday, May 16 to Sunday the 23rd. Kicking off on Sunday, May 16—”Decorating of the Revolutionary Soldier’s Grave—and at 7:30pm a Community Sing at the Morgantown Elementary School. On Monday, May 17th—there was a Host and Hostess Contest and a Variety Show. Tuesday, May 18th—an Art Show and Spring Sing. Wednesday, May 19th at Gospel Sing featuring 4 Gospel Groups. Thursday, May 20th an Old Fashioned Box Supper. Saturday, May 22nd was Festival Day and there were activities for everyone from 9am to 9pm. Horseshoe pitching tournament, checker tournament, push mobile race, pet parade, sawdust scramble, style show, Civil Defense rescue demonstration, Elementary School music program, tricycle “500”, hoop rolling contest, sack race, beard growing contest, and street square dance. Special entertainment was on the grandstand throughout the day. The Morgantown High School Alumni Banquet was at 7pm on Saturday followed by a fireworks display. Sunday, May 23rd was the Annual Memorial Day Parade followed by the Memorial Service at East Hill Cemetery. In addition to all these activities there were special events on display: Art display, Old Morgantown pictures, quilting and candlemaking demonstration, Women’s Missionary Council group singing, a couple of skits (“A portrait of the American Women” and “Circuit Rider”, puppet shows, count the jelly bean contest, baby animal zoo, Southern Bells served free cookies and lemonade, musket and tomahawk throwing demonstration, telephone display, steam engine on display, the Morgan County Bicentennial Time Capsule, and cartoons and little rascal movies were shown at the Christian Church. Local business sponsors were: Myers Clark Funeral Home, Akleg Floor Covering, Henderson Nursing Home, Clock Gallery, Casa Del Beauty Shop, Job Anderson, Morgantown Shell, Silver Stallion Restaurant, Morgantown First Bank, Hickman Brothers, Armstrong Drug Store, Mitchell Hardware, Morgantown to Indianapolis Freight Line, Zimmerman Mobile Oil, Whitaker Chevrolet, R&G Variety Store, Kathy’s Café, Deano’s Barber Shop, Hurdle Insurance & Real Estate, Stockton Co., Mel’s Press, Gailes Gas & Electric, Friendly Tavern, Owen’s Laundry, Critser’s Flower Shop and Downey’s Corner.
So much has changed in 30 years!! Morgantown has a rich history of wonderful caring people who worked to make this community a better place to live. A community spirit and community pride was core to how we lived. That same community spirit and community pride is still with us today. Come support Colonel Vawter Day!! Joe Reed dressed up as Colonel Vawter for the First Colonel Vawter Day.
The question is often asked—just who is Colonel John Vawter and why does Morgantown honor him?
The Morgantown history book “One Hundred and Seventy-Five Years on Main Street in Morgantown, Indiana” states: “In 1988, the Chamber of Commerce wanted to have a festival unique to the town’s history. On October 15, 1988, the first Colonel John Vawter Day was held…..Colonel Vawter Days have been held each year since 1988, and are now planned by the Merchant’s Association.”
Here is a newspaper account for the 4th annual Festival: The headline reads “Col. Vawter Day Festival to honor early town leader”. And the article states: “Morgantown is gearing up for its fourth annual Col. Vawter Day Festival on Saturday. Activities will be held around town on Washington, Cross and Elm Streets from 9am to 5pm. Several booths will be set up offering arts and crafts items, flea market items and baked goods.
Activities will be offered throughout the day, including bingo, hayrides and pony rides. You can test your throwing arm at the dunking booth or try your luck in the hog calling, watermelon seed spitting, nail driving, pie eating, three legged race or Frisbee contests.
An Apple Bake-Off is being sponsored by Wray Produce. Entries in the contest will be on display and the winners will be announced on festival day. Entertainment will start at 11am and will continue through most of the afternoon, featuring clogging demonstrations, the Bundy Dancers, the Hoosierland Band, square dancing and a sing along. Most activities and entertainment will take place on Elm Street, though some entertainment will take place at the fire station on Washington Street.
The Morgantown Fire Department will be serving fish sandwiches, salads and homemade pie and the FFA will have soft ice cream for sale. The Senior Citizens will have their center open with various items for sale, and they invite you to come in, rest and have a soft drink or glass of ice water. There will be an Art Show in front of the old Morgantown School Building with paintings by local artists on display for viewing or purchase. The festival committee welcomes everyone to come and have a nice day.”
The same can be said today……the festival committee welcomes everyone to come and have a nice day.”
Colonel Vawter Day