VERMILION, Ohio (WJW) – The 50th annual Woollybear Festival is here and everyone around Vermilion has worked around the clock to make sure the golden anniversary celebration is perfect.
At the Vermilion Chamber, Sandra Coe leads the coordination efforts for the festival that she’s been a part of since she was a toddler.
“This is near and dear to me,” Coe said. “I was two years old when the Woollybear Festival started back in 1972. My mother was a founding mother of Woollybear. The 50th anniversary of Woollybear is important to so many because it’s tradition. It’s been tradition for 50 years and all because of an extraordinary man named Dick Goddard.”
Local shops around town are also getting ready. At Brummer’s Homemade Chocolates, they are finishing up 600 signature caramel apples.
“The Brummer’s caramel apple has quite the reputation,” owner Audie Bonderer said.
He’s looking forward to the boost in business that the Woollybear brings.
“We’re hoping for some good weather,” he said. “I think it’ll be fantastic. This is the big one, this is the 50th.”
Vermilion Mayor Jim Forthofer can’t wait to see all the smiling faces.
“Biggest one-day festival in the state of Ohio right here in Vermilion, which annually swells from 10,659 people to what, 100,000? Seriously. I mean it’s amazing and we love it,” he said.
New Woollybear shirts and hats can be found at Szabo Apparel Co.
Owner Brian Szabo is excited to showcase the new designs for visitors.
“I grew up in this town so it’s exciting to be able to do a different take on some of the Woollybear stuff that we’ve seen over the years,” Szabo said. “I try to change it up every year and get a little creative with it. It’s really fun to do.”
With the clock ticking, there’s lots to do, but the folks making it happen can’t wait to see 100,000 of their closest friends this weekend.
“I just like seeing the kids out having fun,” Szabo said. “They get all dressed up like Woollybears and everybody’s happy. It’s like the best time of the year for us.”
“What we love to see and our favorite is everybody being a kid for a day, smiling and laughing – having a good time at a free, family fun event,” Coe said.
The celebration on Sunday lasts until 5 p.m. with a parade stepping off at 1 p.m.
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“People are just happy,” Forthofer said. “Dick Goddard set the tone for this whole festival.”