DEMOTTE — The Touch of Dutch festival turned out to be a great day at the park, with mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine. The beginning of the annual fest saw over 400 runners in the 37th Rotary Ramble. The runners had faster times this year due to the lower temperatures and lower humidity as well.
The parade was a big draw with the theme, “What is your Super Power?” Businesses and organizations found ways to answer that question with their floats and presentations along the parade route. This year the judges chose a winner from five categories for parade entrants. Winning for “Best Dutch Theme” was Pastor Rick Vanderwal and family dressed in their Dutch finest as they walked the parade route ahead of this year’s Grand Marshal Sharon Colee.
The Law Office of Emily Waddle won the award for “Best Use of Theme – Super Hero” and the Best Business entry went to Smile Your Best Dental. The Best Children’s Group award was given to I Kick Martial Arts and the Best Service Group was given to Indiana Fallen Heroes, a touching tribute to all our military service members who have died in the line of duty since 9/11.
The KV football team carried many of the posters with each service member’s name and hometown. The posters were taken to the fountain at Park Center where they were on display during the festival.
Visitors could watch a live demonstration on the art of making the famous wooden shoes or visit the mobile exhibition “Indiana on Wheels,” about the auto industry in the state. There was a vendor selling authentic Dutch food, DeMotte Christian Schools sold their yearly Dutch baked goods and the Lowell Boy Scouts made Ollie bollen, a Dutch doughnut like pastry. There was a “touch” of Dutch all over Spencer Park Saturday.
A new family tradition was begun for the Rash family, who opened their first Lemon Shake-up stand and every family member was kept busy all day, making the sweet lemon drink for many guests. Even the grandparents got in on the business, taking payment for the drinks and squeezing the lemon juice out of fresh lemons.
Handmade crafts were sold along with special made items, and children had plenty of inflatables to climb and bounce on. There was even an inflated mini-golf course to play in.
Region bands kept the crowd entertained through the day until it was time for the fireworks that end the festival.
Friday, the festival opened with Pastor Ed Van Wijk, of the United Methodist Church, who is a native of the Netherlands. He sang the Star Spangled Banner with Val Eenigenburg to the accompaniment of the Kankakee Valley Marching Band, followed by his a capella version of the Dutch national anthem in his native tongue. He then welcomed all to the festival in both languages while dressed in his Dutch suit with the traditional wooden shoes.
The Boy Scouts formed the color guard presenting the US and the flag of the State of Indiana after the marching band played a few selections to start the fun.
The Pet Parade followed at the circle around the fountain. Four-year old Madison Diorka, with her dog Duke, won the Best Owner Look-alike trophy. She wore a dog head band and even had on socks that looked like paws.
The Best Costume competitors were a bunny dressed as Eeyore and owned by Kaitlyn Wrezinski, and an iguana named Renegade and his owner Nick Myer. Renegade, coming from Mexico, wore a sarape and the traditional Mexican sombrero. Myer’s and Renegade won in their category.
The Bakula family won for best theme with their dogs, Max, dressed as Captain Dog, and Fi as Wonder Dog walked in the parade by owners, Valerie, 4, and Allison, 7, also dressed as superheroes.
The pet parade gave the children present a chance to pet all the dogs and other pets while the animals waited to take their walk around the fountain.