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The Daily



07-28-03: Celina Lake Festival fun in sun

New competition brings out crowd and some sinking feelings

By The Daily Standard staff
    It's amazing what you can do with eight pieces of cardboard and 70 feet of duct tape.
    Twenty-two people found out Saturday when they attempted to build a boat with the meager supplies and float it about 100 feet out into Grand Lake St. Marys during the Celina Lake Festival's first-ever cardboard duct tape boat race.
    "We have a design in mind," Lori Suchland of Celina said as she and her partner, Sarah Knapke, anxiously awaited their supplies.
    Knapke, a junior at Celina High School, joined Suchland, her friend's mother, to make one of the 11 two-people teams entered in the race. The all-female duo wasn't too worried about capsizing.
    "Sarah's a lifeguard," Suchland chuckled.
    Drew Krogman and Dylon Feltz, both 15 and of Celina, weren't as confident in their creation. They printed, "Lord Help Us," across the bottom of their "U.S.S. Minnow."
    Each team was given an hour to construct some type of watercraft. Oars had to be made from cardboard, too, because hands and feet could not be used to paddle. One person from each team had to paddle the boat across the water.
    Some made fancy-looking canoes and kayaks, others kept it simple with box-shaped boats taped together with, of course, plenty of tape. In the end, some of the simpler designs appeared to stay afloat longer in the water along Lake Shore Drive.
    "Everyone had so much fun and we drew such a large crowd. We'll definitely mark this one down again for next year," entertainment chairman Kevin "Snuffy" Smith said.
    The duct tape boat race was just one of the many successful events at this year's Celina Lake Festival, which opened Friday with sidewalk sales, amphicars and fireworks and closed Sunday afternoon.
    Festival co-chairman Joe Wolfe said Friday's crowd was larger than normal, with an estimated 35,000 spectators on hand for the fireworks display.
    "It was a nice festival, it really really was," Wolfe said. "Everything went as planned, everything went real well."
    Wolfe said the new tram service that shuttled people from the lakeshore to downtown was a huge success.
    "It was great because a lot of people used it. We got a lot of good comments about it," Wolfe said.
    But not everything went seamless this weekend, he added. Tram operators had to deal with unruly children jumping off the tram, and a rumor started Saturday that craft booths needed to be broken-down after the parade, sending many packing.
    Nonetheless, Wolfe said more booths stayed for Sunday than normal and everything went smooth overall.
    Hundreds of thousands of people from Cincinnati, Dayton, Greenville, neighboring towns as well as Celina's own lined the parade route Saturday for the longest parade (205 units) in Lake Festival history.
    The Cramer brothers, from Wapakoneta and St. Marys, staked out their Market Street spot at noon Saturday and enjoyed the downtown attractions while they waited.
    "We've had this very same spot for the last four years 'cause we just won't miss this parade. It's the only one we go to because it's the best in the area," said Stacie Cramer.
    Behind the Cramer encampment, Angela Travis spread a rug on the roof of her house and settled in for a bird's eye view of the parade.
    Ivo Everman, a retired Celina farmer, brought five tractors, two sons and three grandsons, making three generations of his family, to drive in the parade.
    "This is the second time I've been in this parade. Back in the 1950s I was an escort to one of the queen candidates," Ivo Everman said from atop a big Farmall.
    A crowd of about 25 people gathered under the entertainment tent along Lake Shore Drive on Sunday afternoon to enjoy some soulful tunes by Columbus area band, Blues at Last.
    People nodded their heads with the music and tapped their feet, occasionally sending up a volley of shouts and applause in response to a band member's solo. Celina native Mike McGannon, the band's lead singer, seemed to receive an extra special welcome from the hometown crowd.
    "Yeah. They're really good," Snuffy Smith said of the band. Smith was is charge of the festival's entertainment this year and a proponent of moving festival events to the lakeshore.
    "We started four years ago by moving the entertainment from the courthouse to the lake and this is the second year all the rides have been down here. We've gotten a real good reception from it," he said.
    Celina residents Carolyn and Leon Pancake agreed, as they sat along Lake Shore Drive waiting for the adult pedal tractor pull event.
    "It's nice, really nice," Carolyn Pancake said of the lake location. "It's just the fact that it's on the lake. If you're spending all of your time uptown, you don't really know what it's about. It's about the lake."
    The Celina Ministerial Association hosted Revolution by the Lake with live Christian bands at Pullman Bay Park during the weekend.
    Organizer Sue Wills, who is youth pastor at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Celina, said the event was the first of its kind at the festival.
    "We have had a lot of alcohol problems for years in our area," Wills said. "I think we are finally getting a generation of youths that are getting tired of it."
    The event drew about 600 youth, she said. Broken Yoke of Lima performed on Friday, and Solomon's Wish performed Saturday night.
    Wills said the ministerial association plans on making it an annual event.
    "We are going to look at ways to raise some money for it next year," Wills said.
    The track infield at the Mercer County fairgrounds had the genuine look of race day as hundreds of lawnmower racers and garden tractor pullers and their families packed the fairgrounds for the festival's annual races on Sunday afternoon.
    "It looks kind of like a NASCAR race," said Ethan Bowers, 11, visiting the Celina Lake Festival with local friends from his hometown of Fostoria.
    Indeed, the infield was jammed with multicolored garden tractors bearing names like Streaker, Little Giant, Wild Child, Tonka Toy, Bad Habit and Korporal Punishment.
     As the festival was coming to a close on Sunday, "Wild Bill" Syx was getting ready to take his yellow amphicar home to Mays Landing, N.J. Syx has been coming to the Lake Festival for four years for the International Amphi-car Club Swim-In held at the lake prior to the fireworks display on Friday night.
   "Everybody treats us so nice, it's hard to beat," Syx said, adding that he plans to return next year. He said 61 cars and about 200 people came this year.
    Wild Bill initiated the stunt called the water wheelie, which has become a Lake Festival crowd favorite.
    The stunt consists of getting a running start, gunning the accelerator and entering the water at a speed up to 45 miles per hour. Many of the spectators get soaked, as do the car's occupants.
    "The town treats us so good, it's hard not to come back," Syx said.


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The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822