BATTLE CREEK — A small town with a lot of pride will mark a milestone this weekend.
Battle Creek is set to host its 150th anniversary celebration from Thursday, Aug. 3, through Sunday, Aug. 6, with events that will take place throughout the city.
“It’s going to be a really good weekend,” said Ashley Walz, who has been instrumental in organizing the festivities since she and her grandfather, Arvid Warneke, brought the occasion to the Battle Creek City Council’s attention two years ago.
Walz said her grandfather was among those who planned the town’s centennial celebration 50 years ago, and this milestone felt like a big deal because the town’s 125th anniversary went virtually unnoticed.
“We showed up (at the council meeting), and the mayor … said, ‘Well you guys are the ones that came. You guys can be the ones to do it,’ ” Walz said.
The four-day event will be a celebration of the town’s history, starting with the kickoff celebration in the city park from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday.
The evening will include the Farmers Pride community cookout, bounce houses for the children, the junior farmer Olympics, a chalk contest and Real Reptiles and will wrap up with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the first phase of the Heritage Park revitalization project at 7 p.m.
On Friday, the Heritage Park guided tours will take place, and the historic homes tour will take those who have signed up on a trolley ride throughout the town to learn more about the town’s historic homes. Other highlights include punt-pass-kick and free-throw contests, a home run derby and a laser tag and play zone.
The Mark Vyhlidal Polka Band will play in the nursing home parking lot at 7 p.m., and a family-friendly movie in the park will get underway at the ball field at 8:30 p.m.
Yellowbanks Yoga will kick off Saturday’s events in rural Battle Creek at 7:30 a.m.
“Technically, it’s not the Yellowbanks, … but it’s arguably the tallest point in Madison County. You can see everything,” Walz said. “They’re going to do a half-hour of gentle yoga. It’s for anybody. That’s going to be really cool.”
Saturday’s full slate of events also includes a fun run/5K, a pancake feed at St. John’s Parish Hall, a tri-ball volleyball tournament, touch-a-truck, pony rides and a petting zoo.
Old-fashioned games will take place at Heritage Park; cardboard boat races, a Country Kickers line dancing workshop, a car show and shine and fireman’s barbecue also will be part of Saturday’s fun.
“The hottest time of the whole weekend is definitely the market in the park, where there will be 45 vendors — and we keep adding — at the same time,” Walz said. “There will be water bowling with the firemen, and a mechanical bull.”
In the evening, the Lions Club Grand Parade will get underway — with horses included — at 7:30 p.m. A teen dance and street dance featuring Judd Hoos will begin at 9 p.m.
“We’re going to be doing a beard contest in that time, too,” Walz said.
A community worship service will get underway at 10 a.m. Sunday, followed by a serve-the-city event, where participants will spend an hour in service to those in the town who are unable to complete tasks on their own.
“They will leave from the ball field and go to people’s houses, and rake and do stuff for them for an hour,” Walz said.
Afterward, a picnic in the park will be followed by a youth powwow, the old school open house and a pool party.
Bathtub races will take place on Battle Creek’s Main Street from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Walz enlisted her brother, Buddy, and some friends to be featured in a video with an old-time feel she created to demonstrate how bath tub races work.
“I’m super excited about the bath tub races,” she said.
Ventriloquist Kevin Horner will take stage at the high school at 7 p.m., and the celebration will wrap up with a fireworks finale at 9 p.m.
Old-time family photos — where participants dress up in period attire to have their pictures taken — will take place throughout the weekend, but prior registration is required.
Walz said it is important to note that parking will be allowed only in designated areas at the park, but trolley rides will be available during certain times to take those who park at the high school to the various events. Times for the trolley and a full schedule of events will be posted on the Battle Creek 150th Celebration Facebook page.
Walz said she’s excited for the weekend to arrive and looks forward to everyone having a good time during the celebration.
“It’s going to be a really good weekend,” she said.