VERMILION, Ohio – Some rain showers fell during the 47th Annual Woollybear in Vermilion Sunday, but didn’t dampen the fun. The wonderfully wacky festival and parade has become a “destination” event drawing an estimated 100,000 people from across the country.
“We came prepared; we brought all of our umbrellas, raincoats and boots,” said Jackie Lambert. “A little rain wasn’t going to keep us away.”
Kristin Burrup and her family came all the way from Washington State, because her daughter, Sadie, wants to be an entomologist when she grows up.
“She’s passionate about insects so we all flew out here as a family so she could race her caterpillar,” said Kristin.
The festival and parade, which was founded by FOX 8 legendary meteorologist Dick Goddard, is the largest single day event in the entire state.
“It’s incredible,” said Mr. Goddard on Sunday.
The event is always held during the Cleveland Browns bye weekend because Mr. Goddard was a statistician for the team.
It’s also the first festival in the country to celebrate a woolly worm, with costume contests for both pets and people.
“It’s Americana, it really is Americana. People come out here having a great time,” said Lil’ Jon Rinaldi, who has attended every single Woollybear. “They’re all favorite memories because it’s so much fun.”
According to folklore, the woollybear caterpillar can predict the upcoming winter weather. A wider orange/brown stripe is supposed to mean a milder winter.
During the Woollybear 500 Race, it was difficult to judge the stripes, but all of the kids were definitely having fun.
“It’s crazy; I mean, how many towns celebrate a woollybear?” said Lisa Phillips, who attended the event as a child and now brings her own children.
The family friendly, pet friendly and free event is sponsored by FOX 8 News and the City of Vermilion Chamber of Commerce.
There were also dozens of vendors offering a variety of items and mouth-watering foods, as well as multiple fundraising booths.
“It helps out so many non-profits and school fundraisers, so this is a wonderful thing,” said Sandy Coe, Vermilion Chamber of Commerce.
Many familiar faces from FOX 8 News were also in attendance signing autographs before riding in the massive parade that included dozens of high school marching bands, vintage cars and floats.
“Great crowds despite the weather, great vibes, the same as always,” said FOX 8‘s John Telich.