More than 50 bands, from high school marching bands and this year’s Little League champions to the Shriners in their toy cars, the Hitmen Brass Band, the American Legion colorguard and floats each from three different alumni classes, The 2022 Oatka Festival will remind viewers of what they’ve been missing during the pandemic.
After two long years of social distancing, this year’s festival promises people two full days of parade entertainment, an assortment of delicious food tents, a fishing and duck derby, the gathering of the class of 1965, ’67 ‘ and ’77, a music tent, children’s activities, a car show, a photo contest, and craft and food vendors.
The fun begins Friday night with a dance for elementary school students and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the banks of Oatka Creek and in Trigon Park.
“It’s Le Roy’s little state fair, just a little community gathering,” said Scott Ripley, chairman of the parade committee.
It is an understatement to say that planning such an event takes time.
“I start calling people for the parade in January; you have to book them early,” Ripley said. The parade is awesome, I love the parade. It lasts a good hour.
His first year of helping was in 2012, and he recalled how he and his wife Mary Margaret gave out coupons for a free cookie from his previous bakery. They gave out 500, he said. The parade usually attracts a lot more than that, as people line both sides of Main Street.
Ripley also served as parade announcer and is familiar with most aspects of the event, from “firefighter potatoes” to a surprise at this year’s duck derby.
He was happy to book a return visit from Downbeat Percussion, which was last there about six years ago. The group’s first performance was in 2013, and it has spread throughout New York State, including for the Buffalo Bills, and across Canada for parades. Downbeat’s website says the band “will energize your runway show with our world-class performers and performers.”
“So it’s going to be exciting to see the original Buffalo Bills drumming,” Ripley said.
The parade is due to start at 11 a.m. Saturday, and anyone who enters without being registered – but is ready to leave – will still be accepted, he said.
Other bands include the crowd-favorite Mighty St. Joe’s Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps and The Hitmen Brass Band, a group of fun and talented musicians, who dress the part in colorfully striped zoot suits. Formerly from Attica, they were founded in 2002 by World Drum Corps and Buglers Hall of Fame member David Martin.
Ripley just recorded two more bands this week, including Limerock Speedway and an auto detailing business. A first Le Roy Historical Society float will honor Ingham University, which once graced the banks of the Oatka in Le Roy, New York and was New York State’s first women’s college and the first chartered women’s university in the United States. states.
Back to those potatoes, which firefighters buy whole, sliced, and fried into golden, crispy fries. There are also Roy Rotary’s hot dogs, as well as pizza, pulled pork, barbecue chicken and beef on weck.
Kids will have plenty to do, Ripley said, with a mini petting zoo, kid-friendly mechanical bull, rock wall, Mr. Scribbles, boot camp challenge and a two-lane slide.
Is your child photogenic and loves Jell-O? Take a photo and enter the First photo of the toddler who eats jelly contest. There will be a public vote of entries during the festival, and the winner will receive a basket filled with Jell-O products. Entries must be submitted by Thursday.
Vendors will sell their wares of glass fixtures, t-shirts, rugs, farmer’s market produce, baby booties, washcloths, meat and more. There will also be a K-9 demonstration, a used book sale and music from various artists, including a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. A 50/50 raffle promises one winner $500 on Saturday and another winner half the total pot on Sunday. Both drawings are set at 5 p.m. each day. That big bounty is at least $1,000 “for sure,” Ripley said.
For more information on the festival schedule or related events, go to oatkafestival.org.
2018 Archive photos of the Oatka du Roy Festival. Photos by Howard Owens.
Here are two videos from 2019, when Le Roy last hosted the Oatka Festival.