News-Register file photo##After marching in last
year’s Old Timers Parade, Duane Overgard rests his long legs in the park with his wife,
Leslie.
News-Register file photo##After marching in last year’s Old Timers Parade, Duane Overgard rests his long legs in the park with his wife, Leslie.
By News-Register staff • 

Dayton festival brings community together

The event will include a parade, music, a dunk tank and Dayton’s usual Friday Nights vendors and activities. Related events will continue through the weekend.

Poe and Francis, a real-life couple, will be crowned at 7 p.m. Friday in Courthouse Square Park. Princess Ann Albright and Prince Frederick Hisaw also will be honored.

“It’s a nice time for people to come and thank them for contributions,” Mayor Beth Wytoski said.

Poe and Francis have performed service internationally, as well as locally. They have organized and run local athletic contests and community events. Francis also has advocated to the state Legislature on behalf of the visually impaired.

Albright is a former teacher who owned Alderbrook Gardens, volunteered at church and participated in community events. Hisaw is a World War II veteran who’s played a big part in the community.

Prior to the coronation, the Old Timers Parade will roll through town. It will start at 6 p.m. at the high school, move down Ferry Street to the park, then return via Church Street. Members of the senior court will serve as grand marshals.

A popular band, the Slim Jims, will perform in the park prior to the parade and again after the coronation. Food vendors and business booths will be open from about 4:30 p.m. Friday through the evening.

Class reunions and family gatherings will be held on Saturday in the park.

Sunday will feature the Dayton Fire Department’s annual chicken barbecue. Meals of barbecued chicken, potato salad, beans, pickles and bread will be available in the park from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dayton Old Timers Weekend is a festival residents have looked forward to each July for many years.

First held in 1934 as a potluck picnic, it quickly became a tradition. By 1980, it was a full weekend of activities that drew many people back to town for reunions, as well as the parade and other activities.

The festival was dropped for a few years, but now the city of Dayton and Dayton Community Development Association are rebuilding it, much to the delight of residents, Wytoski said.

Wytoski, the grandniece of two Dayton mayors and daughter of a city council member, she recalled going to Old Timers Weekend events  when she was growing up. When she returned to town as an adult, one of her goals was to be involved in reinvigorating the festival.

Today, Dayton also holds the Friday Nights activities weekly in the summer. It’s a boon for local businesses and a beloved event for residents, who enjoy getting together with their neighbors.

The Old Timers events fit right in, said Wytoski, who will take her 3- and 5-year old to this year’s event.

“Old Timers and Friday Nights feel really authentic and natural in Dayton,” she said. “They’re really great socially and economically, and they add to community pride.”

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