ALEXANDRIA – It was 1943 when the United States Department of Defense issued a booklet called simply “Small Town, U.S.A.” The cover depicted a sleepy, tree-lined street with a few kids riding bikes. Inside the pages of the booklet was a close-up look at the life, values and people of Alexandria, Ind. The propaganda piece was distributed during World War II, putting a likable face on the U.S. with this close-up of what was deemed to be the typical American town.
Alexandria celebrates that heritage and small-town flavor next weekend with its Small Town USA Festival. This year will mark the 26th annual event. The activities run from Oct. 4 through 6 in Beulah Park, along Indiana 9, in Alexandria. The weekend showcases entertainment, food, crafts, classic cars, contests, rummage sale and more.
“It’s going to be an exciting weekend here in Alexandria,” said Jeff Bryan, executive director of the Alexandria-Monroe Chamber of Commerce. “We’ll have a lot going on.”
The festival brings back popular traditions, but this year’s event will feature a few new attractions. Among those new treats is the Fastest Foot-Long Eating contest sponsored by Alexandria Subway. That happens Friday at 7 p.m., shortly after the festival gets underway with opening ceremonies featuring the crowning of the festival’s Ladd and Lassie.
Saturday for the first time features the Junk in the Trunk Rummage Sale, where participants will just drive in and park their loaded vehicles.
“You just sell out of the back of your vehicle,” said Don Ingram, general chairman of this year’s festival. Fees are $5 per car or $10 for a truck or van.
Also new this year is the first ever Vintage Toy and Train Show in the 4-H building on Saturday (see related story).
Saturday evening’s Zombie Prom is designed to draw out the young people, and expect them to be dressed for the occasion. Disc jockey Kevin Carney from Alexandria’s own RevolRadio will spin the tunes.
Another new event geared toward the younger crowd is Celebrate My Drive, an interactive program designed to promote teenage driver safety.
Saturday’s classic car show, including participants from the Central Indiana Old Car Club and the Model A Car Club, this year will be complemented by a cruise-in, when those with older model cars are encouraged to strut their stuff.
“You just show up and show off what you’ve got,” said Ingram.
Familiar favorites will be back. Saturday morning, pets will be all dressed up for the pet parade sponsored by the Madison County Humane Society.
“Everybody enjoys it,” said Ingram.
Entertainment on Saturday includes Alexandria’s junior high cheerleaders and gymnasts, Bonnie and Sheri’s Dance and Gymnastics, and the high school choir. On Sunday, the Alexandria Community Band puts a bow on the festival
Of course, all three days look for plenty of vendors to be offering crafts, food and more. The Historical Society will dish up ham and beans all three days of the festival as well.
“We expect to have a full house,” said Ingram. He noted that festival attendance is anticipated to be in the neighborhood of 2,500.
Ingram noted that Alexandria still retains that small-town appeal.
“We’re friendly. We don’t want you to get lost in our town,” said Ingram. He’s been a local since 1956. “I just like the size of the town, and the people that are here.”
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If you go Small Town USA Festival Oct. 4 - 6 Beulah Park, on Indiana 9, in Alexandria Friday, Oct. 4 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ham and beans 4 - 7 p.m. Booths open 6 p.m. Opening ceremonies 6 p.m. Horseshoe pitching tournament 7 p.m. Fastest Foot-Long Eating Contest Saturday, Oct. 5 9 a.m. Boy Scout Bivouac 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Booths open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Junk in the Trunk rummage sale, Celebrate my Drive 10 a.m. Pet parade 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central Indiana Old Car Club, Model A Car Club 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Vintage Toy and Train Show 11 a.m. Horseshoe pitch tournament 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ham and beans 12:30 p.m. Jr. High cheerleaders and gymnastics 2 p.m. Bonnie and Sheri's Dance and Gymnastics 2:30 p.m. Cruise-in 3 to 6:30 p.m. Blood drive 3:30 p.m. High school choir 6 to 8 p.m. Zombie Prom, blood drive Sunday, Oct. 6 12 to 3 p.m. Ham and beans 12 to 4 p.m. Booths open 2 p.m. Alexandria Community Band