There will be a new route and a new lineup location Thursday when the Highland County Firefighters Association Parade kicks off the 2022 Festival of the Bells.
The parade lineup begins at 4 p.m. at a parking lot at the former Hillsboro High School location off West Main Street. The parade will start from that location at 7 p.m.
The parade will be dedicated to Beverly Carroll, who passed away June 27 this year at the age of 60 after serving several years on the festival committee.
“We think it’s very, very fitting for that sweet lady, and she was so active in the festival,” said Lora Kelly, a local firefighter who is helping organize this year’s parade.
Because festival rides will be set up on North Elm Street, which is usually part of Hillsboro parade routes, this year’s parade will march through town on a slightly different route. It will start from the parking lot and take West Main Street to the center of town, turn right onto South High Street, right on West Walnut Street, right on Oak Street and head back to the old high school.
Kelly said the parade is open to anyone that wants to take part. For more information she can be reached at 937-205-9413.
First, second and third place ribbons will be awarded based on the parade theme of Red, White & Boom – We’re Back. Judging is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Those participating should enter through the west gate in front of the Scott House.
The festival runs Thursday through Saturday, July 7-9.
Rides will open at 5 p.m. Thursday and opening ceremonies will take place at 6 p.m. in the new green space off West Main Street, just east of where the parade lineup will take place.
The featured entertainment schedule is also a little different this year with country music artists Caylee Hammack and Elvie Shane taking the stage at 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, respectively, and Christian music performer Jordan Feliz hitting the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday.
The festival opens Friday with registration for a three-on-three basketball tournament starting at 9 a.m. and on Saturday at 7 a.m. with registration for a 5K run/walk. It closes down each night at the end of the concerts.
Those attending the festival will be able to park just north of the green space by the former Union Stockyards site and walk across Beech Street to the festival. Amusement rides will be lined up along West Main Street and Elm Street to Tissot’s Home Center for the duration of the festival.
This will be the first time in five years the festival has been held in the uptown Hillsboro area. The festival was cancelled the past two years due to COVID-19, and the two years before that was held at Southern State Community College.
“It’s special to be able to come back and have it in the uptown area, and that’s something that mayor Justin Harsha wanted, and I think this location, once they get everything finished down there, is going to be a great site for a lot of things” festival committee president Rick Williams said. “That’s where it needs to be is uptown as a sort of homecoming for the people that maybe moved away and come back to see friends and family in Hillsboro, and we’re only just a block from where we were for so many years.”
The full schedule of events for this year’s festival can be found at thefestivalofthebells.com.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.