NEWTONIA — For 42 years, the town of Newtonia - located 12 miles east of Neosho - has hosted its Newtonia Fall Festival. The event includes many different activities from music to arts and craft booths to kids games to food. There will also be tours of the Ritchey Mansion - which predates the Civil War - and art and book sales, along with various blacksmiths.

NEWTONIA — For 42 years, the town of Newtonia - located 12 miles east of Neosho - has hosted its Newtonia Fall Festival. The event includes many different activities from music to arts and craft booths to kids games to food. There will also be tours of the Ritchey Mansion - which predates the Civil War - and art and book sales, along with various blacksmiths.
The festival is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Recently, the Neosho Daily News caught up with Cathy Sheehy, an organizer with the fall festival and asked her some questions about this event.

NDN: What is the main purpose of the fall       festival?
Sheehy: The Fall Festival is put on by the Newtonia Betterment Association and our main purpose  is to raise money to pay for the expenses of our community center.  Money we raise is used to pay for insurance, utilities, and upkeep needs such as repairs, lawn mowing, and replacement of things worn out over time.

NDN: What are some of the highlights?
Sheehy: Each year we have crafters come share their talents with us, as well as musicians throughout the day. This year we are adding a special section to our parade and asking area farmers to bring their tractors to our parade.  We are hoping to have oldies, new ones, as well as those for daily use.  Just dust them off and bring them to town, and get in the tractor parade line up.  We will be offering prizes for the tractors in different categories. We will also have a decorated bicycle competition in the parade also with prizes being awarded.  Our baking contest this year is 'family tried and true favorite desserts'.  We are hoping cooks will bring the family favorites for holidays or parties that family is expecting to see on the menu.
The Newtonia Battlefield Association will have the Ritchey Mansion open for free tours. There will be some additional activities relating to the Civil War ear including several working blacksmiths in the back yard of the Mansion.

NDN: Anything new this year?
Sheehy: This year we are returning to the meal of ham and beans with cornbread.  Although this is not a new item, it has been requested each year we've offered a different meal.  Back by popular demand- our menu will return to the ham and beans with cornbread, salads, and homemade desserts.

NDN: How pleased is the betterment committee for putting this on?
Sheehy: Putting on a festival is quite an undertaking for our small community, but there are several dedicated citizens in the Newtonia area who have worked for several months to get things ready for the festival.  Because we are a small community, this is a pretty relaxed enjoyable event. Many people get together to visit with friends and neighbors whom they might not have seen for some time.  There is a good meal, music, and a time of celebrating our town. It's worth it to see neighbors and friends working together to make this a success.

NDN: This has been going on for a number of years and there is generally a good turnout, why do you think that is so?
Sheehy: It's a good time for family and friends to gather and visit, and enjoy the events of the fall festival in a small town setting.

NDN: Anything else, please add.
Sheehy: Forty-two years ago there were a group of ladies who wanted to have a community center for folks in the Newtonia area to meet and gather for various occasions.  The ladies got busy raising money for the building project.  The area men all helped to get the building completed before the fall festival 40 years ago.  In the month before the fall festival the ladies determined an air conditioning unit was needed for comfort of those attending the festival.  The ladies went around the community asking for donations to help pay for this unit.  The unit was purchased with the money the ladies had collected with the understanding that the final payment would be made after the festival proceeds were collected.  The new air conditioner was put in place on Friday, before the Saturday festival. And the final payment was made on Monday. (Taken from 1977 meeting minutes)
 As a tribute to those area residents who worked so hard for this community, the current committee is also dedicated to the same values of hard work, cooperation, and neighbor helping neighbor for a community cause. We invite others to come join us in a day dedicated to the beginning of the fall season, day to relax and enjoy a day with family and friends,good food, music and the fall festivities.