VAN WERT — Once the “Peony Capital of the World,” Van Wert will be in bloom this weekend as the city celebrates its 39th annual Peony Festival today, Saturday and Sunday.
“Everyone used to flock to Van Wert the first weekend in June because they knew the peonies would be in bloom,” festival committee member Adam Ries said. “We still have several homes with very prominent gardens, along with all of our community parks having peony beds.”
For this year’s festival, most of the activities will be centered in Fountain Park downtown, with today’s events including a youth art show starting at 10 a.m., a craft show starting at 11 a.m., the ArtRageous art exhibit, a car show and music by Papa Doo Run Run starting at 7 p.m.
“They do the Beach Boys and other surf and summer rock and roll,” Ries said. “If the weather’s nice, we should easily have 2,000 or 3,000 people for this concert.”
Saturday will feature a full day of events, starting with a free kids’ fishing derby starting at 9 a.m., followed by a 1-mile fun run at 9:30 a.m. and a 5K run and walk starting at 10 a.m. at Camp Clay. There will be inflatable bounce houses at Fountain Park, as well as opportunities for kids to do chalk art on the sidewalks.
“We’ll also do an architectural scavenger hunt Saturday, checking out some of the cool things on some of our older, historic buildings,” Ries said.
One of Saturday’s biggest events will be the downtown parade, starting at 5 p.m.
“It’s usually an hour and a half or even a two-hour long parade,” Ries said. “It starts at the fairgrounds and goes to the park at the north side of town all along Washington Street.”
Sunday will see the event wind down with garden tours starting at noon, along with an artisan birdhouse silent auction at Wassenberg Art Center.