History of the Peony Festivals
The Van Wert Peony Festival was first held in June 1932. It was two days in length, with two parades on the first day. At 1:00 pm the Ceremonial Parade composed of civic organizations, school children, school bands, and many other groups marched through the business section of Van Wert and ended at the Van Wert High School campus. At 8:30 pm a second parade took place called the Mardi Gras Parade. Many floats and other parade participants went west on Main Street where they were reviewed in front of the Van Wert County Courthouse by the Festival Queen and her attendants. Festival Dances were held in the downtown area and an evening Queen's Dance at the YWCA closed out the first day of the first Peony Festival.
On the second day the Peony Show (Peony bloom entries from the public, with judging) continued at the Van Wert High School's gymnasium. There was no parade on the second day. The final event of the day was the Musical Pageant, The Building of the Ship, in the Lincoln School's auditorium.
In later years, the Van Wert High School's Eggerss Stadium would be an important part of the Peony Festival & Parades, but it was not completed until after the 1936 Festival.
Peony Festivals continued through 1941. During these years the attendance for the Peony Parades rivaled many national level parades and events. Crowds of 100,000 plus flocked to Van Wert and these very large crowds attending the Peony Parades and the large commercial peony farms put Van Wert on most maps with the notation of "Peony Capital of the World."
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