YORK—It was a Yorkfest to be remembered.
Yorkfest 2020 celebrated York’s 150th birthday, but it might be the coronavirus adjustments that were most memorable.
“We made a lot of adjustments to how the weekend was run,” said Madonna Mogul, York Chamber of Commerce Executive Director.
The facet of Yorkfest that had the most adjustments was the parade – or, as some called it, the “grand procession.” The date of the parade fell while Phase 3 directed health measures were in effect. Onlookers had to stay in their vehicles on reserves spots along the route, and entrants could have individuals walking alongside the floats handing out candy or other swag. Under the directives, marching bands weren’t allowed, but Dorchester Public School’s band and the York High School Drum Line both made appearances on trailers. Usually bands make up about half of the entries in the parade; as a result, the number of entries was cut roughly in half. Mogul said the number of parade entries hover around 100. Still, there was a total of 45 creative parade entries, from floats to tractor processions to political candidates cruising the route. Voted best overall float for Yorkfest Parade 2020 was J&R Heating’s entry.
Another Yorkfest tradition that saw change was the Yorkfest King and Queen Coronation; the changes, however, were not necessarily coronavirus-related. The event – celebrated since 1979 – was typically held at either Chances ‘R’ or the York Country Club for many years. The last few years coronation has been outdoors. A group of past Yorkfest royalty decided it was time for a change, Jack Vincent, 2020 Yorkfest Royalty Committee Chair said in a previous York News Times story. “After coordination with the York Chamber of Commerce, the past royalty was allowed to form a committee to plan for the 2020 royalty activities and to determine if changes would be warranted,” he said. Besides a venue change back to the York Country Club, the nomination and voting process were altered. “I think it went really, really well,” Vincent said, following the event. Out of 41 living Yorkfest Kings and Queens, 25 attended the luncheon. Over 90 individuals attended the coronation and meal. Yorkfest 2020 King is Warren Thomas, and Queen is Irene Duncan.
Not just for auto enthusiasts, the classic auto show at Mogul’s Auto Repair & Towing drew plenty of onlookers and unique vehicles. As the show winded down, motorcycle riders hit the road for a poker run starting at Mogul’s. Three vehicles received top honors at the always-popular car show: Chala Coufal’s 1977 CJ5 Jeep took home third place. Don Siebert won second place for his 1969 Chevy Camaro, and first place went to Aaron Dressel’s 1960 Buick LeSabre.
The novel coronavirus didn’t put a damper on the downtown Street Fair. Vendors donning masks sold handmade items, antiques and collectibles, clothing and foodstuffs. Boom Eatery offered both breakfast and lunch at the Street Fair, donating part of their proceeds to York Young Professionals, which provides educational, volunteer and networking resources and opportunities for the area’s young professionals.
A guest speaker inspired attendees at the Prayer Breakfast at Chances ‘R’ – Ron Brown, director of player development for the Huskers’ football team and public speaker. Ben Royal, one of the prayer breakfast organizers, said the committee knew he would be a good choice. “The committee wanted to make sure that the message of the Gospel was clearly explained,” Royal said. “Many of us had heard Ron Brown speak and knew that he would explain how we are all sinners, that Jesus Christ who is the son of God lived a perfect life in the image of man, and willingly gave his life as an atonement for that sin. As we expected, Ron was faithful in sharing the message of the Gospel. “The group – numbering nearly 120 – soaked in Brown’s inspirational messages, and came together in song and prayer. “Many of us attend different churches and rarely gather to celebrate our faith outside of a church building,” said Ben Royal, one of the prayer breakfast organizers. Being on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Brown applied the stories of friends who heroically took part in the rescue efforts. He likened the actions to the spiritual “rescue mission” for people’s faith and souls. Royal said he and the rest of the committee felt the breakfast was a success, and hope to help organize another for Yorkfest 2021.
Family Fun Night had games and entertainment for all ages, from a magician to a cake walk. At the same time, the weekly York Farmers Market, which in part serves as a fundraiser for York Relay for Life, had a variety of foodstuffs and other items for sale. Down the street at the York Community Center, the much-anticipated opening of the 50-year-old York community time capsule took place. The vault, filled during York’s centennial 50 years ago, was buried in front of the Community Center and unearthed to celebrate York’s 150th. York Parks & Rec employees opened the vault in front of a rapt audience. There were some exciting surprises – many quite unusual, and all stinky.
Those looking to get active during the celebration could hit the putting green at the York Country Club. The Yorkfest Family Mini-Golf-O-Rama was for all ages, coordinated by Renewed Horizons. Renewed Horizons provides in-home services, mentorship and guidance for families wishing to be foster families or adopt. The York-based nonprofit is also a community response advocate.
The annual skate contest was a popular event. About 30 competitors from all over Nebraska – including Omaha – showed off their skills to an audience of 20-30 people, said organizer Eric Eckert. “I think COVID factored in,” he said, saying the number of spectators in the past has been higher. The skate contest has been held since 2012. One of the challenges was the “hippie jump,” which used a limbo-like structure constructed by Matt Rief of Fremont. Skaters jumped over a bar as their board went underneath, and had to land on their board when they came down. Lee Osterholt of Lincoln took the honors of the highest hippie jump, an impressive 48 inches. “It continues to be a really fun, successful event and we’ll keep doing it as long as we can,” Eckert said.
Other events and fundraisers peppered the days-long celebration. Overall, coronavirus-era Yorkfest was one to be remembered – and one to be proud of, Mogul assessed. “The whole weekend was a success,” she said. “We were so blessed with everyone’s support.”
Dates for Yorkfest 2021 have already been nailed down: September 9-12, 2021. Watch the York News Times in future months for updates.
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