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Jasper County Tribune

Rain threatens to dampen Fall 4 Colfax festival second year in a row

For the second year in a row, misty rain filtered through the clouds on the Saturday of the Fall 4 Colfax festival. Nikki Stravers and Tammi Schwickerath, the driving organizational force behind the festival, partnered with Colfax Main Street to throw the first edition of the festival last year.

After receiving positive community feedback, they decided to expand the festivities this year. They increased group activities and added a cooking competition to this year’s agenda, and duo encouraged local organizations to sign up as vendors or plan activities to raise money for their the causes. The rain threatened weeks of planning and hours of organization.

“There were a lot of meetings ahead of time,” said Justin Niceswanger, promotions committee chair of Colfax Main Street. “We were working on figuring out a good schedule of events and making sure we had a full day with fun activities for people of all ages. There was a lot of prep work to do it and lining up a lot of volunteers.”

At 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Stravers and Schwickerath were already setting up banners and tents on West Howard Street that the city council had voted to close for the occasion.

“Volunteers were showing up, and we looked at the forecast,” Stravers said. “People were nervous.”

The group picked up the phone and dialed Brian Summy, principal of Colfax-Mingo Elementary, to ask if they could use the school as their alternate location.

“He looked into it and called us back, and he said, ‘let’s do it.’ Huge Kudos to him,” Stravers said. “When we got here, we had to figure out where to put everybody. Nothing is working out like we wanted it to, but it’s all working out like we wanted it to in a way.”

Vendors spread their bounty of baked goods and homemade soaps on tables in the cafeteria. Pumpkins and a pile of hay lined the walls of the gymnasium. The beer garden for which the city council had a special meeting to approve a liquor license, relocated to the pub side of Poppy’s Family Restaurant. More than 20 volunteers rushed around C-M Elementary moderating games and keeping schedules.

Despite the rain, Stravers and Schwickerath achieved their expansion of the festival and increased community involvement. Generations of club members from C-M High School set up their fundraiser — like the Tigerhawk Jail, where people could pay to have community members detained for a short period in the lost-and-found closet — to raise money for events including community cleanups and summer children’s activities at the high school.

Two young ladies, Olivia Twohey and Amelia Dayton, sold buttery popcorn and neon-colored snow cones to raise money for their 4-H project: purchasing a cart and training their miniature pony, Joey, to pull it.

“We have a great crew here helping us out with our organization. It looks like it’s going to be a fun day,” Justin Niceswanger said.

The activities continued as scheduled, and by 11 a.m. people poured through the elementary school’s doors to seek shelter from the drizzle outside.

“Seriously, I want to hug (C-M Elementary Principal) Brian Summy because he just came right down here and opened up the doors for us. He’s been more than accommodating. We’re messing up his school: There’s hay everywhere, and he’s just working it all out for us.”

Contact Phoebe Marie Brannock at 641-792-3121 ext. 6547 or

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