Gratis prepping for bicentennial

By Kelsey Kimbler -

GRATIS — The Village of Gratis is finishing planning for its 200th birthday. The celebration is slated to start on Saturday, June 10 and go throughout Sunday, June 11. The committee has made strides in getting ready for the celebration, but is still actively searching for volunteers and certain vendors.

They will start the two-day event with a parade on Saturday at 11 a.m. featuring grand marshal and guest speaker Donnie Lewis. Breakfast will be available at the Gratis Eagles for those who arrive early. There will also be concessions and vendors lined up. There will be numerous activities throughout the celebration, including live music throughout both days.

The two-day celebration will feature breakfast at The Eagles, a parade, bike and car show, opening of a time capsule, Bad Men on a Mission, Tall Paul Boyd, Thumb Up, Lexi Dawn, The Worley Boys, church services, cornhole tournament at the Eagles, longest beard contest, talent show, cutest baby contest, dedication of a new time capsule, 200th birthday cake, pie auction, The Faithful Few, James Mathes, and Thankful Hearts.

Vendors for the event include Ullery’s Concession, Laura Mills, Wayne Overhead Door Sales, G&S Concession, Kona Ice, The Kettle Nation, Cratefull, T.E. Cakes, Sue Finney, Gary Goffinet, Buckey Jake’s Eatery, Rodney Forrer, Jesse’s Diner, SSE Designs, Bathroom Alternatives, and Melanie Chadwell.

Saturday will feature constant entertainment in the form of bands. Co-chairs Stacy Johnson and Robin Richardson said that the music will start around 1 p.m. and they don’t know when it will stop. Bands featured will include The Worley Boys, Bad Men on a Mission with Tall Paul Boyd, Lexi Dawn, and Thumb Up.

Johnson added, “I think the bands will bring the most people.”

There will be bands on Sunday as well, but the times are not yet set.

Also on Saturday will be the opening of the time capsule. Johnson said, “I know a lot of people want to see what’s in that time capsule.”

They will be closing the capsule on Sunday, however, they will not decide what goes into the capsule until they see what is already in it. Johnson clarified, “We don’t want people bringing in a bunch of stuff when we don’t know if we have room for it.”

As for commemorative memorabilia for purchase, Richardson says, “We have t-shirts, plates, and we will have village books, but those won’t be ready during the bicentennial. You can pre-order those and the plates. We will have commemorative wooden nickels, little Frisbees, guitar picks, and koozies. For t-shirts, we are going to have some at the festival, but you can also go online and order at Everything is on there.”

According to Johnson, the committee is hoping to have some t-shirts ready by Memorial Day.

There will be no Gratis Summer Fest this year due to its close proximity to the bicentennial, but Summer Fest will be back next year.

According to co-chairs Stacy Johnson and Robin Richardson, the bicentennial will be a “once in a lifetime celebration.” Richardson added, “You know, it’s 200 years and won’t happen again for another 50 years. If they don’t come out now, they’re not going to know, are they?”

The Gratis Bicentennial Committee is seeking volunteers to run booths or be “runners.” They need people to help doing whatever they need done during the festivities. They are seeking participants for their parade and car show as well. Additional vendors are also needed. For more information, the committee is asking people to visit for documents and contact information, or to contact the Village Office at 937-787-3728.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH