Americana Festival draws thousands for July 4 despite scorching heat

Blistering temperatures made it a hotter-than-usual Fourth of July for visitors to this year’s Americana Festival in Centerville but the heat also made it a big day for vendors selling chilled treats and other refreshments.

Sandra Andrews was serving up shaved ice from her Kona Ice truck near the festival’s 10 a.m. parade Wednesday. Dozens of customers were lined up to buy a cold concoction from one of Andrews’s three trucks at the festival.

“This is our kind of weather,” Andrews said.”It’s much better than, say, March of this year with the extension of winter when it should have been spring… it’s a great day for shaved ice.”

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Independence Day was hot and humid this year, with temperatures in the lower to mid-90s most of the day, according to WHIO-TV’s Storm Center 7. The combination of humidity and high temperatures made it feel as hot as 105 degrees in some parts of greater Dayton region.

An “excessive heat warning” was in effect until 8 p.m. Wednesday for Dayton and much of the area south of the Gem City. Areas east, west and north of Dayton all had heat advisories in effect for much of the holiday.

The Americana Festival is a Centerville tradition that celebrated its 45th year this July 4. It’s estimated that the festival welcomes more than 75,000 people and more than 100 volunteers. Along with the parade, the festival offers a street fair with vendors selling crafts and food, a classic car and truck show, a 5K run with more than 1,200 participants and fireworks. Most of this year’s festival was dryer than 2016’s, when thousands still attended in the rain.

Andrews has been serving shaved ice at the annual festival since 2010, she said.

“Americana is always fabulously organized,” she said. “This is Ohio’s largest one day festival and Americana works really hard to take care of their vendors and they work really hard to make it a great experience for all of our customers.”

Although the heat put cold food and beverages in high demand at the festival, scorching temperatures didn’t seem to detract from the variety of hot food being served up from stands and trucks.

Centerville resident Sarah Kuns and her daughter go to the Americana Festival every year. They bought a freshly fried funnel cake for breakfast despite the heat. Kuns said she and her daughter come to the festival every year.

“She just wanted one. It’s her favorite and it’s something we always grab,” Kuns said, “Its a tradition.”

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Rismiller Concessions, the truck Kuns bought her funnel cake from, sells around 750 to 800 cakes every year at the festival , said Sharon Rismiller of Arcanum in Darke County. Rismiller owns the truck and five others with her husband Ron.

The couple started selling funnel cakes to help put their kids through college at Miami University and the University of Cincinnati, Rismiller said. They started selling cakes in 1982 and began selling the treats at the Americana Festival around 1987 or so and have been selling them there every year since.

“I just thank the people for their support today,” Rismiller said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have been successful. We just try to get the best product out to them in the shortest amount of time.”


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