Americana Festival: Celebrating the Fourth for more than 40 years

Centerville’s Americana Fourth of July Festival has been a tradition for more than four decades.

This year the festival will honor the men and women who helped the community battle the pandemic.

In honor of this signature festival of summer and the Fourth, we look back at this beloved Dayton-area tradition.

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The event began as a sidewalk sale in 1972 among downtown Centerville merchants, according to the Centerville-Washington Township Americana Festival website.

As the event grew, merchants had to arrange for street closures and a festival was born.

Here are six things to know about the patriotic festival:

1. Bigger and better. In 1979 the festival expanded, had a $20,000 budget and added a parade, street fair, sky divers and fireworks.

2. All in it together. The Kiwanis Club of Centerville took control in 1985. To encourage more community input, they opened the doors in 1988 to non-Kiwanians. Today the festival is funded by city and township governments and donations from businesses and institutions.

3. A very grand marshal. Actor Gordon Jump, a 1951 Centerville High School graduate known for his role as Arthur Carlson in "WKRP in Cincinnati" and as the lonely Maytag repairman, was the grand marshal of the 1996 parade.

4. Celebrating community. The festival draws more than 80,000 people each year to enjoy the mile-long parade, street fair and more than 300 arts and crafts booths. More than 100 volunteers work the event.

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5. A festive stroll down Main. The Street Fair is a highlight of the annual event. More than 300 craft and food booths will fill Main Street as strolling performers entertain visitors.

6. Keeping to a theme. Each year a theme is chosen for the festival. In 1995 it was “In the Good Ol’ Summer Time” and in 2000 it was “Millennium: Past, Present and Future.” This year’s theme is “Honoring COVID-19 First Responders and Health Care Workers.”

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