ASHLAND – This year’s Stir-Up was hampered by extreme heat and humidity on Friday and Saturday and heavy rain on Sunday, but there was still a lot of fun to be had.
The crowds may have been slightly smaller than anticipated for the annual festivities, said Cindy Walsh, one of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce’s Stir-Up committee members.
“The heat had an impact on numbers,” she said.
Walsh worked with Shelly Pfeiffer to coordinate the three-day event. They were assisted by Chamber President Bradley Pfeiffer and Chamber members Shirley Niemeyer and Karen Stille.
Heat may not have been a factor on Friday night during the Stir-Up coronation ceremony, which was held in the air-conditioned high school gym. There, Walsh was crowned Stir-Up queen, while Pfeiffer was named king.
But heat did cause the outdoor movie audience to be somewhat small, said Ashland Police Chief Joe Baudler. The Ashland Police Department teamed up with Acts 2 Church to show a movie and serve hamburgers and hot dogs near City Hall.
Things were still pretty steamy Saturday morning for the morning events like the Brickhouse Fun Run and the Smile Contest and Boy Scout breakfast. The heat continued to build all day and remained present for the evening events as well.
The temperatures didn’t stop the parade crowds, though. The streets were lined with spectators again this year for the six entries in the Kiddie Parade and the Grand Parade, which had over 70 entries.
The Stir-Up committee brought in several new activities for Saturday afternoon, including more rides to create a carnival atmosphere. The rides were popular, especially the mechanical bull and gyro.
With the heat it may have seemed like the crowd was light, but ticket sales indicated otherwise.
“We sold twice as many tickets than we did last year,” said Pfeiffer.
The water features were also a big hit, Walsh said. The fire department’s version water fights and their sprinkler kept plenty of kids cool throughout the day.
There were also a few mechanical issues that hindered some of the activities. The company hired to bring in the dunk tank forgot a key piece of equipment, causing Husker football player/Ashland native Ben Stille to sit and wait for nearly two hours before he was officially dunked. After that, Stille was followed by a host of local dignitaries.
The street dance was brought back this year and was also a big hit. The crowd was light but enthusiastic for the opening band, Nightshade, a group of local teenagers. As the sun went down and the weather cooled, however, the crowd grew so BO’Dell and the Relics had a substantial group of dancers and listeners.
“The bands were great,” said Walsh.
At the ROC ‘n the Park event at Wiggenhorn Park, youth were eager to enjoy the pool, splash pad and playground equipment and chowed down on burgers and hot dogs before 70XForgiven took the stage.
On Sunday, rain put a huge damper on the highly-anticipated Stir-Up Car Show. Organizers told the owners of the 400-plus cars that were expected to stay home, as Ashland was deluged with rain and lightning.
“A couple of car clubs had already cancelled by 7 a.m. after they looked at the radar and forecast,” said Pfeiffer. “That took about a third of what we usually get, so we had an idea of what we were up against after that.”
Pfeiffer said they have rescheduled the car show for Sept. 29.
The food vendors scheduled for Sunday were forced to cancel their plans as well, which caused issues for some organizations that bought product specifically for their booth. First Position Dance Studio was stuck with dozens of ears of corn and watermelon, but a social media marketing blitz helped them sell the produce.
All of the food vendors are invited back for Sept. 29.
“So far many of the food vendors have committed to coming back on the 29th,” said Walsh.
The craft show went on as planned, but attendance was very light due to the lingering rain. Organizer Shelby Stewart said she is planning to hold a craft show during the rescheduled car show.
More details on the reschedule car show will be published as the event gets closer.