48th Little Egypt Festival to be held October 5
Now in its 48th year, the Little Egypt Festival is Salem’s tradition of recognizing its status as the “Gateway to Little Egypt.”
Early settlers in this region recognized the similarities of this area to the land of Egypt, with its confluence of rivers and rich soils for agriculture.
The Little Egypt Festival is always held on the first Saturday of October in downtown Salem, and includes food and craft vendors, activities for kids, a 5K run, a horse show, Big Wheel races, a car show in Bryan Memorial Park, and the big parade at 2 p.m.
Festival Co-Chairs Jay and Beth Henke have served as organizers for several years now, and have seen the festival evolve over many generations into what it is today. As the festival continues to grow, the Henkes note that some of the locations and elements will be changing to accommodate growth and to allow for future expansion.
As always, the festival is at the mercy of Mother Nature; adverse weather sometimes takes its toll, but generally, it usually turns out to be a very nice day.
This year’s festival is once again being held in conjunction with the Marion County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Reunion, which will hold a dinner Friday evening, parade activities on Saturday, and then entertainment in the park on Sunday. More information related to the Reunion is available on the Marion County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Reunion page on Facebook.
The 2 p.m. parade will have over 100 entries, and travels through town from the Bryan Memorial Park area, south on Broadway to Main, then west on Main to Illinois Street. Spectators always line the parade route, sitting on lawn chairs, blankets, or their vehicles in adjoining parking lots, to enjoy the parade. Marching bands, floats, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles, antique tractors, and many more fun entries are always followed by the horses and the City of Salem street sweeper!
This year’s parade theme is “America the Beautiful.” Most floats, business entries, and others will be designing and developing their parade entries based on this theme.
The Parade Grand Marshal for this year is Shirley Hall, who has served the Salem American Legion Luther B. Easley Post 128 for a total of 78 years! Shirley’s mother signed her up as a Junior Auxiliary member at age nine and she’s been an active member ever since. Shirley says one of her favorite memories is helping with the services provided to injured and ill veterans. Shirley’s husband was also past commander for several terms of the Salem American Legion. In recognition of her many years of outstanding service to the Legion and to this nation, Shirley will be given special status as Madame Grand Marshall for the parade, and will be treated as royalty for the day, commensurate with her status.
The festival would be impossible without the assistance of the City of Salem, Salem Police Department, Salem Department of Emergency Services, Marion County ESDA, Salem Fire Department, many commercial sponsors like O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Salem Township Hospital, Salem Rural King, Little Egypt Golf Cars, and festival volunteers and participants.
More information is available on the Little Egypt Festival Facebook page and the Little Egypt Festival Parade Facebook Page.