The town of Newtonia is gearing up for their 37th annual Newtonia Fall Festival, slated for Saturday.

The town of Newtonia is gearing up for their 37th annual Newtonia Fall Festival, slated for Saturday.

The Daily News recently interviewed Cathy Sheehy, a co-organizer of the event, and asked her some questions about the annual festival, its origins and what will transpire.

NDN: What is the main purpose of the fall festival?
Sheehy: The main purpose of the festival is to raise funds to support the building for any needed repairs, maintenance and upkeep for the next year. We also use part of these funds to host our annual community Thanksgiving meal.

NDN: Along with the fall festival, the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association (NBPA) will be observing the 150th year of the first battle of the Newtonia which occurred on Sept. 30, 1862. What are some of the highlights of this year's event — either the fall festival or the NBPA event?
Sheehy: We will have a ham and bean dinner, music throughout the day, craft booths, games for all ages, a quilt show, king and queen contest, a parade, and drawing for raffle prizes. In addition to the festival, this is also the year we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the first Newtonia Civil War battle. There will be tours of the Ritchey Mansion all day long with many demonstrations and activities held throughout the day on the mansion grounds.

NDN: How about the arts and crafts at the festival? What can we expect to see?
Sheehy: There are several booths already signed up for the craft section of our activities.  Interests this year include homemade crafts, jewelry, make-up, and a new business to our area of spice blends and seasonings. A couple of new items this year will include an opportunity for a fall picture to be made and the community is going to be offering mums and pumpkins for sale as a support to our community. I really believe there will be something of interest for everyone.

NDN: Will there be a king and queen competition this year?
Sheehy: Yes, we will have a king and queen competition. Each year we have youngsters sell raffle tickets as a way for the child to raise support to become the king or queen. The tickets are for our raffle items that have been donated from area businesses. Raffle tickets are also available throughout the day of the festival for purchase if there has not been an opportunity to purchase tickets from one of the children. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.

NDN: There will be a parade on Saturday. How many entries for that do you have?
Sheehy: At this time we have quite a few parade entries. We have a few antique cars, possibly some antique tractors, bands, horseback riders and a few floats. If anyone is interested in joining us, the parade will line up on the west end of Mill Street at 1:30 p.m. for the 2 p.m. parade time.

NDN: How many people do you anticipate showing up?
Sheehy: We are hoping for a record-breaking crowd this year. We have so much to choose from this year, it seems like a great opportunity to come see our town and help us celebrate the sesquicentennial and fall season.

NDN: Can you tell us some history of the fall festival?
Sheehy: The actual group who began this was called the Loyal Neighbors Club. The Loyal Neighbors began as an arm of the Newton County Extension office. The extension office had small community groups who helped with extension projects as well as support to the local Newton County Fair. The local group from Newtonia was the Loyal Neighbors. In 1977, the 27-member club published a cookbook to help raise funds to build a community building. I believe the first fall festival was held in 1975, again to raise funds to build a community center. The first festivals were actually held in my current home. At that time the house was vacant and the ladies held a quilt show, had a few activities in the yard for children and sold lunches of ham and beans including homemade salads and pies. With the needed funds gathered, the community building was built. I believe much of the work was done by H.O. Patrick. I believe the ladies were wanting a meeting place for their community, as well as a place to gather and quilt together. After the community building was built, the ladies met regularly to quilt and would make quilts and sell them or for a fee they would quilt tops that others had made. These funds were used to support the building.

NDN: This has gone on for 37 years. What do you think attracts people to come back?
Sheehy: I have heard several people comment that they'll be at the festival for the pie but with so many activities available, it's hard to pick one favorite. We are hoping to have a something of interest for anyone who comes to Newtonia. This is a small community and I think people enjoy coming for the small town atmosphere, the music, look at quilts made by area quilters, a time to enjoy visiting with friends, and give support to our community.

NDN: The money raised through the booths, does it go to the betterment group for the community building upkeep?
Sheehy: The money raised from selling the booth spaces is for the community building upkeep.  The actual sales of the booth items goes to the crafter. Crafters come here to share their talent and it gives us an opportunity to see the different crafts available in our area.

NDN: Where do you see the fall festival going in the next five years?
Sheehy: This is such a good, wholesome, fun, activity for everyone, I'd like to see the festival continue for many years to come. It takes quite a bit of work to put on a festival but it will be worth it when we get a chance to see friends and family meet and visit.

Newtonia Fall Festival schedule
• 7:30 a.m. Historic Newtonia 5K run/walk beginning in front of the Ritchey Mansion on Mill Street. Registration begins at 7 a.m.
• 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Newtonia Community Center: Craft booths open, games, raffles, quilt show by Newtonia Battlefield Quilt Guild and food.
• 11 a.m. Ham and bean dinner with salads and homemade pies
• 2 p.m. parade, line up at 1:30 p.m.
Various music groups will be providing music throughout the day.
To reserve a craft booth contact: Lucy Byrd 638-5232, parade entries call Lynn Sartin 850-5998 and 5K run/walk, call Cathy Sheehy 472-3163.

Civil War anniversary events

Saturday, Sept. 29   
Camps sound reveille at Commander’s discretion
6:15 a.m. Breakfast rations available from event staff
7:30 a.m. 4th MO provides gun firing to start 5K race        
8:30 a.m. Camps inspection-ready, Commanders determine guard rotation for the front of the Ritchey Mansion. NOTES: Field Hospital is open throughout the day. The Mansion is manned by the NBPA. Musicians are directed by Nathan McAllister.
9 a.m. Camps, Field Hospital, and Ritchey Mansion open to the public
9:30 a.m. Union Infantry (9th Wisconsin) demonstrates – Lead Unit: 24th MO, Holmes Brigade Company/Battalion march, drills, and firing (ex: count off, column march, column to line, fire by volley, fire by rank, fire by file, bayonet, charge).  Presenter (Eddie McAllister narrating drills for the crowd) coordinates with US commander on field to describe maneuvers and how they were used at Newtonia.  Galvanized infantry can participate, but must follow Union     Commanders’ orders.
10 -10:20 a.m.  Union Artillery Demonstration conducted by Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
10:30    a.m. Soldier Demonstrations – Infantry, Cavalry – with two to three demonstrators  (determined by commanders) show individual manual of arms and firing.
11 a.m. Union Infantry (9th Wisconsin) demonstrates – all available infantry (repeat of 9:30)
11:30-11:50 a.m. Wilson’s Creek Union Artillery Demonstration (repeat of 10 a.m. presentation)
Noon -1 p.m. Lunch provided by the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association (NBPA)
1:30 p.m. Soldier Demonstrations (repeat of 10:30) or Native American presentation [if time permits].  Commanders stage units in rear of Newtonia Parade.
2 p.m. Annual Newtonia Parade w/Living History Units in rear.
3 p.m. Confederate Dismounted Cavalry (31st Texas) demonstrates – Lead Unit: 4th MO
3:30-3:50  p.m. Wilson’s Creek Union Artillery Demonstration (repeat of 10 a.m. presentation)
4 p.m. Soldiers at Newtonia (same as 10:30 a.m. demonstrations)
4:30 p.m. All units form in front of Ritchey Mansion for Honor Salute to those who fought and fell at the First Battle of Newtonia.
5 p.m. Camps close.  Supper begins, provided by the NBPA.

Sunday, Sept. 30th
8 a.m.    Anniversary Date Memorial at Newtonia First Baptist Church (voluntary).
Address by Chief Glenna Wallace of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.