COLE CAMP — For the people of Cole Camp, the Cole Camp Fair isn’t just about rides, games, and food; it’s about traditions and community.
The Cole Camp Fair starts at 9 a.m. each day Sept. 5-7 in downtown Cole Camp and draws around 10,000 people to the town, but it’s the community and traditions that the people of Cole Camp look forward to.
“Thousands of folks come to this fair. The German heritage of the community created kind of a tight-knit bond amongst families and people, not only people that grew up here, but people who move in and live here,” said Cole Camp Fair Boardmember Jason Veale.
Harold Weinberg has been coming to the Cole Camp Fair for roughly 70 years and still has a great time enjoying what the fair has to offer. To him, the people and traditions he’s been a part of since he was a child are the best parts.
“I’ve been coming to the fair for 70 years and it’s just a ritual...You see people at the Cole Camp Fair that probably you didn’t see since last year. It’s kind of a big homecoming…” said Weinberg.
“I don’t remember ever missing a year and I’m not the only one, lots of people are that way. I just wouldn’t miss it. It’s an exciting, fun three days. In all the years I’ve been to the fair I don’t remember ever seeing two people get mad at each other. Everybody’s here to enjoy it, they enjoy one another, it’s just that kind of town.”
Cole Camp doesn’t only attract locals though. LeeAnn Ramel has been coming to the fair for a few years after she and her husband moved to Cole Camp from Kansas City. The couple originally only owned property in the town but liked the town so much they ended up moving to Cole Camp.
“Just the way it’s (the fair) like small town America and it’s like how I was growing up as a child in the ‘50s,” she said. “People are friendly and they enjoy themselves and it’s a great place for families…Tradition is big, big.”
High School senior and football player Ruvim Garbuzor spent Friday doing a volunteer project with the rest of the football team, pushing around the wheelchairs of people from the local retirement home so they could enjoy the fair. Garbuzor thought that tradition was a big part of the community.
Possibly the biggest attraction at the Cole Camp Fair is the nightly parade at 7 p.m. which features vehicles, bands, and the highly anticipated floats. This was evident Friday night, with hundreds of onlookers crowding onto both sides of the streets, hoping to get the best seat before the parade started.
“This is very unique, it’s a very unique community fair because of these floats that they make,” Veale said. “They remind you of the rose parade in California but they’re made with tissue flowers instead of real flowers and every year churches and organizations build. They spend literally tens of thousands of hours building these floats.”
“They’re beautiful, every year they’re beautiful and every year they’re unique. They make them for this fair and then they’re dismantled. Next year it starts all over. That’s part of the great joy of it. There’s a real rich tradition with that. That’s been going on for generations. Making these beautiful floats.”
There were five floats in this year’s parade made by various organizations: St. Paul’s Church, The American Legion, the Lutheran School Association Partners in Education, Trinity Lutheran Church and the Cole Camp High School senior class.
The floats were well received by audience members. Attendee Barbara Desmond has been coming to the fair since she was little and said the floats were always a favorite of hers, although her favorite thing this year was seeing her grandson with the scouts go by.
“It was very good. We enjoyed it. Tonight was some of the antique tractors which was kind of cool, what they’ve done with those. I thought the floats were good…” she said.
“The floats are always my favorite because I think that’s unique for Cole Camp. It takes so much time and energy and they’re so creative so that would be my favorite part probably.”
The Cole Camp Fair will continue Saturday with more games, events, food and another parade at 7 p.m.