Thousands Attend 41st Woollybear Festival

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VERMILION, OH -- Tens of thousands converged on the city of Vermilion Sunday for the 41st annual Woollybear Festival, where the curious caterpillar could be found everywhere.

Each year Fox 8 Meteorologist Dick Goddard hosts the event in downtown Vermilion, Ohio.

There were people and their pets dressed up as woollybears and the fuzzy bugs themselves.

Many participated in a fierce competition at the Woollybear 500 caterpillar race to see who had the fastest wiggly worm.

*** Click here to submit your photos of the Woollybear Festival ***

The kids costume contest is another favorite festival event. Xavier Gonzalez, 3, of North Olmsted and Jade Butler, 6, of Indian Lakes near Columbus, were crowned this year's King and Queen.

"We love FOX 8. This is our fourth Woollybear Festival so we didn't want to miss it," said Margo Hudson of Cleveland.

The first Woollybear Festival was held in Birmingham, Ohio in 1973. The community was looking for a PTA fundraiser and Mr. Goddard was hoping to start a weather-related festival.

He settled on the woollybear caterpillar after careful consideration.

It has grown from attracting a few hundred to an estimated 100,000 people. Woollybear 41 is now one of the largest one-day festivals in the state of Ohio.

"Since I've been a baby, we've been coming every year to the Woollybear Festival, and now we have the next generation. My kids have been coming. It's a fun affair, a family affair," Holly Oster of Seven Hills said.

All the festivities are for a fuzzy bug that has become legendary for its winter forecasting ability. Steve Dimando of Vermilion knows all about the folklore connected to the Woollybear caterpillar.

"It's got to do with the size of the middle stripe, severity and coldness. Large is mild, small is severe, he said.

City Wright comes from Norwalk for the Woollybear Festival.

"It's a lot of fun. I like the parade. The parade is the best," said Wright.

Representative Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland, served as the Grand Marshal for the parade. Rep. Patmon is the main backer of "Goddard's Law" and has been working with FOX 8′s Dick Goddard and the Public Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS Ohio, to pass the legislation.

The Woollybear parade is one of the largest in the state with 250 units participating. Many Fox 8 personalities were in the parade among the marching bands and floats.

Click here for continuing coverage on the Woollybear Festival.

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