ASHLAND – First responders and those who stepped up to help victims of the spring flood will be honored during the 2019 Stir-Up festivities this weekend.
In March of this year, floodwaters inundated parts of the Ashland area, threatening the homes of many local residents. Through it all, the first responders were there to warn residents of the flooding, rescue those who were in danger and keep an eye on things throughout the ordeal.
Alongside the first responders, who are volunteers from the Ashland Fire and Rescue departments, were the local citizens who stepped up to help their neighbors in a time of need.
These people will be honored during Stir-Up July 19 to 21.
The Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce has been in charge of organizing Stir-Up since it was first held in 1935. This year’s committee includes Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce President Bradley Pfeiffer, Shelly Pfeiffer, Cindy Walsh, Karen Stille and Shirley Niemeyer.
Shelly Pfeiffer said the theme for 2019 Stir-Up is “Ashland Strong Tribute to Community Volunteers and First Responders.”
“Because of the flooding and all of the volunteers in the community that stepped up to help everyone out that needed it,” said Shelly Pfeiffer.
Bradley and Shelly Pfeiffer, husband and wife, saw the flooding first-hand at their home in the Willow Point lake area near Ashland. While they were not affected directly, their daughter’s Willow Point home was damaged.
Bradley Pfeiffer worked as the lake’s safety officer through the ordeal to make sure everyone was evacuated, helped clear the access road and spent time cleaning up debris in the community.
As they were helping their community, the Pfeiffers also witnessed many acts of kindness during the flood and its aftermath.
“We were overwhelmed,” said Bradley Pfeiffer.
The first responders and volunteers who helped during the flood will be honored not only by the theme of this year’s Stir-Up, but they will also be recognized during the coronation ceremony on Friday night hosted by the Ashland Junior Woman’s Club. The event begins at 7 p.m.
The Chamber of Commerce is raising money for flood victims through t-shirt sales.
“The profits are going to go to the flood victims,” said Shelly Pfeiffer.
It is the first time that the Stir-Up committee has created a t-shirt in about 15 years. Daryl and Julie Wills designed the graphics for the t-shirt.
T-shirts are being sold on pre-order through the Gift Niche prior to Stir-Up, and will also be sold on Saturday at the Chamber’s booth at 15th and Silver streets.
Proceeds from the Sons of the American Legion (SAL) Squadron 129 Street Dance on Saturday night will also aid those affected by the spring flood, Bradley Pfeiffer said.
Stir-Up has not had a street dance for several years.
“The street dance is back,” said Shelly Pfeiffer.
The popular event will be held on 16th Street on the west side of the American Legion Club.
The headline act is BO’Dell and the Relics, a rural contemporary band out of Elkhorn that plays a mix of classic rock, country and blues, according to their Facebook page. Bradley Pfeiffer said the band is playing for free.
“They are donating their time to help out the SALs and flood victims,” he said.
The opening act is Night Shade, a rock group made up of talented current and former students from Ashland-Greenwood High School. They take the stage at 4:30 p.m. followed by BO’Dell and the Relics at 7:30 p.m.
The “Ashland Strong” theme will show up throughout the 70-plus events that make up the three-day Stir-Up schedule. The committee has worked hard to increase the number of events over the past few years.
“We went from 35 activities to 57 last year and we’ve over 70 this year,” said Bradley Pfeiffer.
To bring back the carnival atmosphere of Stir-Up, there will be more rides set up in downtown Ashland.
“People have been asking for rides,” said Bradley Pfeiffer.
The task was not without its challenges. The original vendor cancelled last February, Bradley Pfeiffer said. But the committee persevered.
“We scurried around and found some more,” he said.
The rides will include the Chaos swing, Rock ‘n Roller ride, Super Sonic ride, Gyro Extreme, Tubs of Fun and Revenge of the Sea rides, along with the return of the popular Euro Bungee Jump. For the truly adventurous, there will be a mechanical bull.
To accompany the rides will be a variety of carnival games like miniature golf, electronic basketball, Strike-a-Light Arena game and a three-lane bungee run.
A number of inflatables will also be placed in the downtown area and a photo booth makes its debut.
A lineup of local “celebrities” will be taking a seat in the dunk tank, giving everyone a chance to get their favorite school, city, chamber or church representatives wet.
The schedule is peppered with new events, along with many of the traditional activities that make Stir-Up so much fun.
Included in the new events is a ribbon cutting for the new Silver Street bridge over Salt Creek. The event will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Friday at the bridge.
Several events that made their debut in the last few years continue to be a part of the Stir-Up lineup, including helicopter rides. DWTA Helicopters out of Wichita, Kan. is back for the third year in a row to give riders a birds-eye view of the community on Saturday and Sunday.
The human foosball game operated by the FFA Alumni group was a hit last year and will be back in the same location again this year on Saturday. The washer tournament, a mainstay of Stir-Up for the past several years, will also return to the beer garden on Saturday afternoon.
There are many events that have been a part of Stir-Up for decades, including the kiddie tractor pull, smile contest, water fights and All-Stars and Stripes carnival games. They fall during Saturday’s busy afternoon schedule.
Friday night’s main event will be the Stir-Up coronation, where a man and woman who have contributed to the community are crowned king and queen. This event is organized by the Ashland Junior Woman’s Club, with support from the Chamber. It has been a part of Stir-Up since 1948.
The Ashland Art Council’s Stir-Up Art Show has also been on the schedule for many years, and this year is no exception. However, the show will return to its original site at historic St. Stephen’s Church, after taking place at the library for the past few years. The show begins at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
The Chamber’s beer garden is designed as a place for adults to sit down and visit with friends with an adult beverage if desired. It will be open from 12 to 9 p.m.
All ages can enjoy bingo at St. Mary Catholic Church at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Youth from middle school through age 19 have their own special event during Stir-Up at the ROC in the Park party at Wiggenhorn Park on Saturday night.
As for food, Stir-Up is the place to find a variety of carnival-type foods to indulge in. Friday’s fare includes a drive-through lunch at Oxbow Living Center and the Swine and Dine at the high school before coronation. During the outdoor movie near City Hall, movie goers can dine on hot dogs and hamburgers.
Saturday’s morning menu starts with the Boy Scout breakfast at Bank of Ashland and the Hightshoe Family bake sale at Willow Point Gallery. There will be bottled water sold by the Ashland Junior Wrestling Club to wash it all down.
If you find yourself getting hungry during the Grand Parade, you can grab a sloppy joe or brat at St. Mary’s Education Center.
Right after the Grand Parade, the Ashland History Museum is the place to be for Lunch on the Lawn from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., where bunzas and chicken pockets are being sold.
There will also be hamburgers and hot dogs served at the beer garden.
For a snack between meals, there will be cotton candy, kettle corn, funnel cakes and fresh squeezed lemonade at booths in the downtown area in the afternoon. At Casey’s General Store, you can decorate, and then enjoy, a fresh donut until supplies last. The Chamber will be selling popcorn at their booth and for homemade ice cream and desserts, head to Ashland United Methodist Church at 2 p.m.
The dinner bell rings at 5:30 p.m. at the VFW Hall when the Steak and Hamburger Fry opens. The beer garden will also be serving hamburgers and hot dogs in the evening.
No need to cook on Sunday, as there will be several food vendors set up for the Car Show, starting with biscuits and gravy for breakfast at 17th and Silver from 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., then converting to lunch fare with hot dogs at 11 a.m.
There will also be breakfast burritos served two blocks over at 15th and Silver beginning at 8:30 a.m. The kettle corn, funnel cakes and fresh-squeezed lemonade make another appearance on Sunday starting at 8 a.m.
The American Legion Auxiliary will have a meal ready to pick up at their “Lunch Box on the Go” booth next to the Legion Club beginning at 11 a.m.
Concession stands with more food choices will be operated by the Ashland Rescue Department and the Ashland-Greenwood Post Prom organization. First Position Dance Studio will have a corn on the cob bar at the craft show.
Parades have always been a traditional part of Stir-Up from the very beginning. The Kiddie Parade, sponsored by the Ashland Rotary Club, is the first parade of the day. The first Stir-Up Kiddie Parade was held in 1953. Then, as now, many families choose themes for their entries, usually based on well-known movies or books. The brightly decorated bikes, wagons and tots are a definite crowd pleaser.
The Grand Parade follows the Kiddie Parade. The route starts at No Frills Supermarket and extends to 15th and Silver, where entries turn and head north to end the parade. Expect plenty of decorated floats, patriotic color guards, vintage vehicles, horses, fire trucks, rescue squads and lots of flying candy.
Dr. Jack Cooper, who recently retired after 40 years working as a dentist in Ashland, will continue his volunteer duties as the organizer of the Grand Parade along with his trusty sidekick, Kayla Stohlmann.
Sunday’s car show will again be a huge event. Last year, more than 400 classic cars filled the streets of downtown Ashland. The event begins at noon and concludes with the trophy presentation at 3 p.m.
Miniature versions of the big cars will also be on display during Stir-Up. The Ashland Public Library is sponsoring a kid’s model car and Hot Wheels show at the library from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
More information on the 2019 Stir-Up schedule can be found on the city/chamber website, ashland-ne.com and in flyers distributed in the Gazette.