The 2016 edition of the Festival of the Bells kicked off in Hillsboro on Thursday with an opening ceremony and the annual festival parade.
The opening ceremonies included a colors presentation by Highland County Boy Scouts, the National Anthem performed by the Highland County Children’s Choir, followed by the “Grocery Games,” designed to benefit local food pantries.
A big crowd had gathered under pleasant weather conditions by the time the parade rolled through the center of town shortly after 6:30 p.m. The theme of this year’s parade was “Festival of the Bells: A Time to Remember,” with the parade sponsored by Pike Natural Gas and the Highland County Firefighters Association and All American Fire Equipment.
The crowd size kept growing into the evening in anticipation of the performance by Christian rock band Building 429, which was preceded by local performers the FBC Praise Team.
On Friday, craft booths were set to open by 10 a.m., with the midway and its food booths opening by 11. At 2 p.m. a Boy Scouts demonstration was scheduled on the courthouse lawn, along with a bell choir performance from the Hillsboro First United Methodist Church at Merchants National Bank.
At 3:30 p.m., children’s games sponsored by Hillsboro First Baptist Church were scheduled for the courthouse lawn, with another bell choir performance at 4 p.m.
Karate demonstrations by 3G Karate were set for 4:30 p.m. on High Street, and at 5 p.m. a Highland County Free Throw Championship competition was set for Gov. Trimble Place. The popular Kiddie and Adult Pedal Tractor Pull was set for 6 p.m. Friday on Gov. Foraker Place, sponsored by Turner Funeral Home.
The Highland House Museum was scheduled to be open both Friday and Saturday from 1-6 p.m. featuring its special exhibit, “The Barns of Highland County.”
Music was set to return at the main stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday with local performer Jessica Aber, followed at 9 p.m. by Friday’s headline attraction, Jana Kramer.
On Saturday, the festival’s final day and the one packed with the most events, an early 5K Run/Walk sponsored by West Hillsboro Cross Fit begins with registration at 7 a.m. and the event itself at 8. Also beginning and lasting all day will be the car show sponsored by the Hillsboro Uptown Business Association.
At 9 a.m. is registration for the Pet Parade at Merchants National Bank, along with registration for the Hillsboro FFA Cornhole Tournament, at the information booth. The Baby Parade registration will be at the courthouse at 9:30 a.m.
The Cornhole Tournament on High Street and Pet Parade at Merchants Bank are at 10 a.m., with the Baby Parade at 11 a.m. sponsored by US Bank on the courthouse square.
At noon, children’s games begin held by the Hillsboro First Baptist Chuch on the courthouse lawn, followed at 1 p.m. by a scavenger hunt at the information booth. At 2 p.m. is Highland County Trivia, and at 4 p.m. is an Inspire Gymnastics performance on the courthouse lawn More children’s games will be held at 5 p.m. on the courthouse lawn.
Local artists Becky Goble and Sheri Smith perform on the main stage at 7:30 p.m., followed by auction items at the same stage at 8:30 p.m., and then the Saturday headliner, Phil Vassar, performs on the main stage at 9 p.m.
Check timesgazette.com for more photos and a video of Thursday’s festival events.