VAN WERT — The peony, and the festival that carries its name, are blooming with super-size promise this weekend in Van Wert for the annual Peony Festival.
“Our festival is always scheduled for the first full weekend in June, when the peonies are in full bloom,” said Larry Lee, executive director of the Van Wert Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Indeed, Van Wert gained its Peony Capital of the World title back in the 1930s when prominent businessman Charles Wassenberg planted his first peony bush. Eventually, that love of peonies grew into acres of peonies, heralding Van Wert into the national spotlight.
“Today we don’t have the peony farms, but we do have garden tours this year of some beautiful gardens in Van Wert. Some of them are drive-by gardens that you can see from the road, and some are ones you can get out and tour,” Lee said.
Another part of the festival will focus on the arts, with an expanded ArtRageous on Main slated. “We have 19 artists, which is the most we’ve had in several years,” said Adam Ries, director of that portion of the festival.
“They will be exhibiting oils, acrylics, glass, pottery and wood creations. We encourage them to offer demonstrations. Also, we encourage people coming to the festival to be involved through our continuing canvas, and our take home tie-dye for the kids. We also will host an architectural hunt and let people look downtown at some of our buildings that are older than 130 years. Gives people a chance to look up at art,” Ries said.
There’s a car show with at least 100 cars that continues to grow in popularity opening at 5 p.m. today.
And for music lovers, Phil Dirt and the Dozers kicks off the Fountain Park Music season at 7 p.m. today.
“Probably the key for the entire weekend is the grand parade on Saturday. People always love that, and this year will give them plenty to love,” Lee said.