Thunder Over Holmes County: Old-fashioned family fun with an element of surprise
by Denice Rovira Hazlett
Ah, summer. School’s out, picnics are packed, and bike tires are pumped and ready to roll. In downtown Millersburg, summer brings with it all the favorite festivities of an old-fashioned, family-friendly Independence Day.
Bring on the barbecues and balloon artists, the jello-jiggling, seed spitting and pie-eating. Fire up the fireworks and the fair food. And, of course, what summer celebration would be complete without a few spins around the old… ice-skating rink?
That’s right. This year’s Thunder Over Holmes County, held in Historic Downtown Millersburg June 29 and 30, promises to be the biggest, best and most unique yet, thanks to the fabulous folks at Historic Downtown Millersburg and the generosity of local businesses and organizations. Sure, the annual event is already a family favorite, not just for those living in the area, but for visitors traveling from Cleveland, Cincinnati, and even out of state. But with this year’s attractions and activities, it’s sure to make meaningful memories for years to come.
Many favorites will return to this year’s Thunder over Holmes County - thanks to event sponsor Century Link - including Tim Angeloni, historical presentations, lawn games, caricature and balloon artists, and fun, old-fashioned and new-fangled competitions, including the return of Thunder Idol, which will once again welcome singers and musicians to compete for cash prizes and a chance to perform on Saturday’s grand stage along with a variety of entertainment, sponsored by Millersburg Walmart Supercenter.
While the Thunder Over Holmes County festivities officially begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 29, with inflatable bounce houses, a 22-foot slide sponsored by the Holmes County Prevention Coalition (HCPC), and strolling magician Tim Angeloni, food vendors will be ready at noon, serving up delicious dishes for the lunch bunch.
Friday evening, Thunder Over Holmes County will kick off on the courthouse lawn as Bob Casey emcees the second annual Thunder Idol competition. Last year’s local judges - West Holmes music teacher Kristen Rodhe, Young Music’s Brent Young, and “Java” Jo Weaver - will return to determine the winner of the trophy, cash prizes, and spot on the grand stage on Saturday night during the main Thunder Idol events. Competitors can be solos or bands singing a cappella, with accompaniment, or to music-only tracks. Each competitor should come prepared with two or three pieces, the first limited to 90 seconds. For those who advance, subsequent pieces should be different and can be longer. The $20 per-person registration fee goes directly to the cash prizes. Register the day of the event or by calling 330-674-3955.
One exciting new activity that promises to be popular is what could possibly be Ohio’s only ever Independence Day ice skating rink. The 30-by-40 foot outdoor synthetic rink, provided by Artificial Ice Events and sponsored by Pomerene Hospital and Majora Lane Center, will be set up behind the courthouse on Friday evening and all day Saturday. Historic Downtown Millersburg’s executive director, Tara McCulloch, predicts it will be a big hit.
“I’m so excited about this and grateful for the sponsors,” McCulloch said. “While Thunder Over Holmes County is already an excellent community event that’s very Americana, this is something that will make us unique.”
Ice skating, McCulloch said, though unusual for Independence Day, is an old-fashioned, Norman Rockwell-type activity, which fits in with the down-home flavor of Thunder Over Holmes County while adding a totally unexpected element.
“It will set this event apart from every other Independence Day festival in the area,” McCulloch said. “We invite everyone from surrounding areas to come and check it out.”
Thanks to sponsors, the rink, which can accommodate around 30 people at a time, will be provided entirely free of charge, right down to the ice skates.
Beginning Saturday at noon, Thunder Over Holmes County gets fully under way with food vendors, balloon artists, a dunk tank, face painting, silent auctions and raffles, free caricatures by Sam Sutton, strolling magician Tim Angeloni, on-site DJ Bob Casey, and, in addition to Saturday’s inflatables, a rock climbing wall, sponsored by the HCPC. All of Saturday’s volunteers will be provided by Sky View Ranch, who will also host kids’ games on the lawn, beginning at noon.
Back by popular demand are the kids’ games on the courthouse lawn throughout the day for those 17 and younger, including pie eating, jello cube tossing, and watermelon seed-spitting contests, complete with trophies, courtesy of The Commercial Savings Bank and Rodhe’s IGA.
Entertainment on the grand stage will include bluegrass group Salt Creek, Inc. folk and classic rock group, Thumbs McGee, the Thunder Idol winner, and magician Tim Angeloni, who will present his popular magical stage show for all ages.
As evening approaches in downtown Millersburg, the men’s group Fun Center Chordsmen Barbershop Harmony Chorus will take the stage, performing traditional, contemporary and patriotic songs arranged in four-part a cappella barbershop harmony style. Bring lawn chairs and blankets to settle in as the fireworks, sponsored by the Holmes Tourism Bureau and the village of Millersburg, fill the sky, sending this year’s Holmes County Independence Day celebration out with a bang.
Make plans now to spend the last weekend in June in Historic Downtown Millersburg celebrating an old-fashioned family festival offering a bit of fun for everyone, including the chance to show off your figure-eights on the Independence Day ice rink.
Refer to this week’s Bargain Hunter for a full listing of events, activities and times. For more information on Historic Downtown Millersburg, find them online at http://www.HistoricDowntownMillersburg.com or call them at 330-674-3955.
This article was underwritten by Historic Downtown Millersburg.