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20th Celebrate Laconia in the books

What started as a grand-opening ceremony for the Laconia General Store has evolved into a celebration of good friends, good neighbors and good times running 20 years strong.

Hundreds gathered around the town’s four-way stop Saturday for this year’s Celebrate Laconia festival. It started with a parade full of local faces and, after that, attendees mingled with one another and took part in various activities at the festival.

Pam Kingsley of Laconia said she has attended the festival since the first one in 1999.
“We really didn’t have booths and things when it first started,” she said. “Every year, we’ve added different booths and vendors.”

This year, there were about two dozen booths and activities going on around the town for festival-goers to participate in.
The festival’s annual pie contest, featuring pumpkin this year, was won by Amy Watson, who said there’s no big secret to her prize-winning pie.

“It’s just a little of this and a little of that,” she said. “I don’t follow a recipe.”

The parade’s grand marshals were Jim and Lena Mae Ferree, who also have attended the festival since it started.

“We’ve always had a big crowd; it’s always been big,” Lena Mae said. “We’ve had people coming from everywhere.”

The event is sentimental for Ferree, a former cook at a restaurant that used to operate in town called Kingsley’s. At the festival, she ran into several people whom she remembered had eaten her food nearly every day for years.

Carrying on with the hobby, Ferree said she and her family reopen Kingsley’s as a booth at the festival every year to feed the town again. The chili they serve is revered as a local favorite.
Ferree said she enjoys taking the day to reconnect with people who have moved from Laconia but still come back for the festival.
“I love very minute of it, and I love to cook,” she said.

If she had the chance to change one thing about the festival, Ferree said she wouldn’t, even after 20 years.
“I want it to stay the same,” she said.

With some members stepping down soon, the Celebrate Laconia Committee is in need of community leaders to fill their shoes, as well as volunteers for next year’s festival. Anyone interested in getting involved with the committee or volunteering for the festival should contact the committee on its Facebook page, Celebrate Laconia, or by mail at Celebrate Laconia Inc., P.O. Box 115, Laconia, IN 47135.

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