CultureFest, MustardFEST draw crowds to downtown Springfield

Robert Ryan heard the echoes of a DJ’s voice echoing upon arriving in downtown Springfield around midday on Saturday. Expecting to find a guy playing music, Ryan instead found crowds gathered for the first CultureFest event since 2019, and later on the fourth edition of MustardFEST at National Road Commons Park and Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company.

The 24th CultureFest debuted a new configuration with vendors lining up sections of Fountain Avenue and High Street with an entertainment stage set up near the esplanade where live music and dancing celebrated the various people who make up the Springfield community.

ExplorePHOTOS: CultureFest2022

MustardFEST, a two-day celebration of events and activities inspired by the “king of condiments,” began the afternoon with the popular Champion City Wiener Dog Race in Commons Park.

People like Ryan were delighted to find so much free activity awaiting, making a day of it exploring both events and food and drink offerings.

“This is way better than just a DJ,” said Ryan, who moved here about six months ago from California to be near his mom. “This was a pleasant surprise. I’m going to be here a while.”

Even longtime Springfield residents got their first taste of CultureFest. Melissa Fultz had tried to make it to the Springfield Farmers Market several times, but rain interfered.

With preschool-age son Carter Roscoe in tow, she not only made the Farmers Market and shopped at Champion City Guide + Supply for the first time but finding CultureFest too was a nice bonus as Carter Roscoe enjoyed the live music and looking at the colorful shirts for sale, while mom appreciated what it represents.

“It means a lot, it represents positivity,” she said. “It’s nice he’s getting exposure to family-friendly culture.”

ExplorePHOTOS: Champion City Wiener Dog races

Springfield’s Baha’i community sponsored several positive kids’ activities representing the oneness of humanity. Hadley Scanlan, age 8, was drawn to it, taking in an activity replacing a negative behavior with a virtue, which helped after her best friend disappointed Hadley on Friday.

“She’s got a good heart for people and we’re very, very proud of her,” said Hadley’s grandmother, Julie Scanlan of Donnelsville.

Hadley loves to paint and had plenty of chances including helping with a piece of community art sponsored by Springfield Promise Neighborhood and getting her face painted. She also enjoyed watching the Springfield High American Sign Language group perform.

CultureFest had a record number of 85 vendors participating according to event organizer Aaron Clark, who said people were ready to get back out after the pandemic canceled the event the past two years.

Just down the street, MustardFest gathered crowds in National Road Commons Park for the wiener dog races. There were 32 signed up and many other breeds brought their owners to cheer on their species along with several spectators, including residents from the nearby townhouses such as Christen and Justin Mosier.

In the past few weeks, they’ve enjoyed a 5k race, the Springfield Jazz and Blues Festival and now this outside their front doors.

Brian and Emily Corbin brought their wiener dog Fletch down from Marion, Ohio just to watch. Their family found information about Springfield events and found it a fun day trip.

“It’s a beautiful day. We’re surprised at how many people are here,” Emily Corbin said.

Kaley and Nathan Bodey of DeGraff brought their 7-year-old Dachshund named Dyna to race. Their goal wasn’t so much to take home a prize, but to be around her breed and get some exercise.

“It’ll be good for her. We really just want her to socialize,” said Nathan Bodey.

Although Dyna didn’t win her heat, she still got a bacon treat for the effort and her owners had fun. She wasn’t alone.

Many of the competitors never left the starting line, some posing for the crowd and others just not interested, such as Mama, whose owner described as a diva who previously competed at a wiener dog race in Dayton’s Oregon District, which was enough.

A Dachshund named Charlie had his own cheering section of seven and a poster supporting him. He’s placed second and third at previous Champion City races, but this wasn’t to be his first-place year, dropping his first heat.

The heat of the day combined with a back injury earlier this year may have kept Charlie from placing, but there’s always next year for owners William and Kristina Taylor of Springfield.

“Now our offseason training starts,” said William Taylor, smiling.

MustardFest continued into Saturday evening with live Oktoberfest music, food trucks and seasonal craft beers. The event will resume at noon Sunday with the Woeber’s Mustard Recipe Cook-off: Brunch Edition with participants using Woeber’s products to come up with unique dishes and a group of local chefs judging. Live music will be performed after the cook-off.

Admission is free. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/MotherStewarts/.

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