WELCOME SIGN: New signs decorate downtown Ashland welcoming visitors to the annual Stir-Up celebration, which begins on Friday and runs through Sunday. (Staff Photo by Teresa Livers)

ASHLAND – Ashland’s biggest event of the summer, Stir-Up, will kick off in a matter of hours. A schedule packed with events will most assuredly provide something for everyone.

Friday events include the Ashland-Greenwood Alumni Golf Tournament. This is the fifth year for the event which continues to grow each year.

Organizer Matt Starr said they expanded the tournament to 36 four-person teams this year and said there are spots for one or two more teams. The event will be played at the Ashland Golf Club on Highway 6. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. Friday with a shotgun start at 9:30 a.m. Last year’s winning team included Donnie Laughlin, Casey Anderson, Jeremy Chizek and Matt Hansen. Golfers have the chance to win over $2,000 in prize money. Each foursome must include two AG graduates.

As has been the tradition for many years, the high school Spirit Squad will host a Burger Bash prior to this year’s Stir-Up coronation in the high school commons area from 5 to 7 p.m.

After eating, diners may gather in the gym to witness the crowning of the 2015 Stir-Up royalty at 7 p.m. Outgoing king and queen, Tom Walsh and Carolyn Blobaum, will speak briefly about their year in the limelight before passing on the crown to two more well-deserved citizens. A public reception honoring the new king and queen will be held at Riverview Community Church following the ceremony.

A reminder that a new event, the drive-in-movie, will also take place on the north side of the high school, starting at approximately 8:30 p.m. The movie being shown is “The Sandlot.”

Saturday activities start bright and early with registration for the Seventh Annual Brick House 5K run and one or two-mile walk. Registration is at 6:30 a.m. in front of the Brick House on 13th and Silver. The event itself will get underway at 7 a.m. All proceeds are going to the Larry Westling and Jill Finkey families. Westling and Finkey are currently battling cancer.

Another returning event will be the Craft Fair held in the drive-through area of Farmers and Merchants Bank. Organizer Jeri Michalski said she hopes to continue to grow the craft fair such that they outgrow their current space. Crafts of all types can be found at the fair.

The youngsters will want to polish their pearly whites by 8 a.m. so they can show them off at the Smile Contest at Core Bank. Parents might want to shake all the “grumpies” out of the kids too. It’s all about the smiles.

The kiddie parade will get started at 9:30 a.m. Those that wish to enter should check-in at 18th and Silver streets. The theme for this year’s parade, “Tell Me a Story,” should make for some interesting costume choices. The streets of Ashland may very well be taken over by super heroes, minions and maybe even a fairy princess or two.

One of the biggest draws during the day on Saturday will be the grand parade which is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Ashland’s very own astronaut, Clayton Anderson, will be riding in the parade.

Because the Ashland VFW Hall will be hosting a family reunion that day, parade participants are asked not to park in the VFW’s parking lot.

After lunch, the kids will be ready for one of the most popular events each year, the kiddie tractor pull. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. and the pull will get started at 1 p.m. The location will be the same as in years past, on Silver Street just west of The Fish Shack under the big shade tree.

Carnival games sponsored by the All Stars and Stripes group will also begin at 1 p.m. in the parking lot to the east of The Fish Shack.

If the predictions hold true, the weekend will see temperatures in the 90s. The Ashland Volunteer Fire Department will be on hand to save the day though. They will hold water fights in front of the post office from 1 to 3 p.m.

The tradition continues at 2 p.m. when kids gather for the frog/toad jumping contest. The leaping amphibians will find their jumping grounds in the circle at 15th and Silver streets.

From frogs, kids grab their helmets and head for their bikes. Bike races start at 3:15 p.m. in front of Lee Sapp Ford.

The start of many evening activities will begin around 4 p.m. with several family-friendly things to do including an inflatable obstacle course and jousting, face painting, a photo booth, a bubble station for kids and adults and even an opportunity to decorate, and eat, your own donuts.

Between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m., registration for arm wrestling will take place at 15th and Silver. Children as young as 4 years to adults are welcome to participate. This is a return event that has become very popular for spectators.

At 6 p.m., gears are changed up a bit and the main event will take center stage. The Second Annual Battle on the Bricks will feature Ashland-Greenwood, Wahoo, Tekamah-Herman and Fairbury will bring wrestlers to compete in a round robin dual tournament with each team wrestling three duals. This should provide constant action from beginning to end. There will be multiple State qualifiers and a few State medalists in the group.

“This is the second year of the event and even though we are down a couple of teams, we think that we have made adjustments to make this a more competitor and fan friendly event with the later start,” Organizer Dan Beranek said. “We’ll have teams from across the east side of the state to attend the event and we look forward to putting on a good show for the community.”

Those that don’t enjoy being outdoors are encouraged to try their luck at Bingo in the St. Mary Catholic Church basement starting at 7 p.m.

Youth in grades 6 to 12 are invited to attend ROC’n the Park from 7 to 11 p.m. Formerly known as the Root Beer Kegger, this event will feature food, games and swimming at the local pool. The pool will be open only to youth attending the event.

If not completely exhausted after Saturday activities, there will be plenty to see on Sunday as well.

Until noon that day, downtown Ashland will be transformed into a mecca for car enthusiasts. The Stir-Up Car Show starts at noon with trophy presentations scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. The car show continues to grow every year and organizers believe they will, again, have cars lined up along both sides of Silver Street for at least four blocks. Concessions will be available starting at 11 a.m.

Don’t forget, new to this year’s schedule, a magic show will be taking place at the Ashland Community Resource Center, at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s certainly an action-packed weekend,” said Livers. “There are plenty of activities, old and new. If attendees can’t find something to interest them, then they aren’t looking hard enough.”

“As always, I try to find ways to keep everyone busy and having a good time,” said Livers.

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