Five things to know about this weekend's Tobacco Heritage Days

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Andrea Behling
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

EDGERTON—Tobacco Heritage Days is back.

The annual event in downtown Edgerton and Racetrack Park looks to celebrate Edgerton's history and community with a three-day celebration, President Erin Johnson said.

“It's a great time to spend with family. We have a lot of kid friendly activities,” Johnson said.

The festival includes a parade, car show, Big Wheel race, Arts in the park, a carnival, bands and other activities and attractions. Here are five things to know about this year's Tobacco Heritage Days that runs from Friday to Sunday in Edgerton.

1. It's free. Admission and the shuttle service won't cost a thing. The festival's committee decided to make the weekend free three years ago to draw more people, Johnson said. It used to be $8 for a weekend pass. Since making it free, the festival has seen better attendance. Johnson expects about 500 to 800 people throughout the weekend. The shuttle service is a tractor and wagon also used at the Rock River Thresheree. It will take people from Racetrack Park to downtown Edgerton.

2. They've added a soap box derby. It's called the Gravity Race, and it's new to the festival. Kids ages 9 and older will compete in the derby at 4 p.m. Saturday. They'll enter their homemade cars that rely on gravity to speed down the hill. It's hosted by the Edgerton Teen Center.

3. Beware of closed roads. The festival will require a few roads to be closed from Friday to Sunday. Part of Albion Street, Rollins Street, Main Street/Highway 59 and Henry Street will be closed for the parade Sunday. The parade begins at 11:30 a.m. and lasts about an hour, so the roads will probably be closed from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Johnson said.

4. Don't judge a book by its cover. Tobacco Heritage Days doesn't glorify tobacco or its use, Johnson said.

“The name doesn't mean anything, it's just our history,” she said.

The festival is meant to celebrate Edgerton's history, which tobacco production was and still is a part of, Johnson said.

In 2006, the festival's name was shortened to Heritage Days in an attempt to rid the festival of any negative connotation and be more attractive to sponsors, Johnson said. That decision backfired. The festival saw lower attendance and negative feedback, she said. The name Tobacco Heritage Days was reinstated the next year.

5. Rain or shine, the show goes on. It stormed Sunday at last year's weekend festival, which forced the committee to close the park early, Johnson said. The committee is prepared to work through rain if the weather doesn't cooperate this year, rescheduling events if need be, she said.

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