Making memories

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Bagdad Days, a festival of community

By Lisa King

To the people of Bagdad, their annual spring festival on Saturday is more than just a way for people to have fun.

It’s that, all right, but Cathy Marion, chair of Bagdad Days, said the festival, in its 22nd year, is a tradition that the community strives to uphold.

“Bagdad Days is all about making memories,” she said. “Every year, everybody, especially the kids, have something new to remember and to talk about.”

Marion said the festival is a fundraiser for Bagdad Baptist Church, and the money it takes goes to benefit the church and the community.

“We started Bagdad Days to raise money to pay for our new park, to pay off that debt,” she said. “This year, it will pay for the youth to go to camp and some of the proceeds will go back into the church.”

Marion, a 40-year church member, said the festival is doubly important because the church is the center of the community, and keeping it [church] viable is the heartbeat that keeps Bagdad alive.

“It’s very important to us to keep this going, because they closed our bank and they took our school away, the post office is just barely here, so the church is the glue that holds this community together,” she said.

“This festival is for everybody, but the church is putting it on.”

Even Jim Wiley, father of pastor Kyle Wiley, gets into the act, Marion said.

“We always have fun with Jim and his lemonade,” she said. “He makes sure all the lemonade is just right. He’s really serious about it, too, how much lemon goes into it, how much ice, how much sugar. He has helpers there, but he is in charge.”

Wiley will be making homemade lemonade and snow cones all day.


Events and activities

This year, all of the usual fun events are planned, and even some new ones.

The festival will kick off at 7:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast in fellowship hall of the church, followed by a 5K run/walk at 8 a.m.

If you’re not in the mood at that time of the morning for walking or running, and are looking for a more sedate activity, yard sales also open at 8 a.m.,

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. and this year the grand marshal will be Shelby County Schools Superintendent James Neihof.

“He was chosen by our parade committee, because we’re celebrating one-hundred and twenty-five years of Bagdad Baptist Church, and we’ve got a theme of Preparing our Youth for the Future, so it’s in keeping with that,” Phyllis Bailey said.

Neihof, superintendent of six years and a teacher and administrator for 24 years, said it means a lot to him to be chosen grand marshal.

“It’s an honor to be chosen by the community to marshal a parade,” he said. “I’m even more excited, though, about their choice to raise awareness about educating the children of Shelby County. It’s partnerships like these that will continue to make our school system great.”

After the parade, inflatable rides will be open from 10:30 to 3 p.m., and the auction tent will open at 10:45 a.m. There will be a quilt show in the church’s sanctuary at 11 a.m., one of Bailey’s favorite activities, she said. For the first time this year the quilt show will include a demonstration, put on by Bailey’s sister, Sandy Phillips.

Hands-on quilting will be held until 3:30 p.m., and there will even be a chance to win a free quilting frame.

The air will also be filled with delicious smells from food such as pork sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato wedges, and ice cream and sweets at the Sweet Booth.

The festival will end as it began – with food – a fish fry will he held at the Bagdad Ruritan building from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

2014 Bagdad Days

WHAT: Community festival

WHEN: Saturday

WHERE: Bagdad Baptist Church

MAIN EVENTS:Pancake breakfast 7:30; 5K, 8 a.m.; parade, 10 a.m.; pedal tractor pull, 11:45, yard sales, food, quilting, all day