April 20, 2014

Elyria
Clear
42°F
test

Getting down for Woollybear Sunday

VERMILION — It’s often called the biggest one-day festival in Ohio.

And with past crowds estimated in the tens of thousands, that may not be an idle boast on Sunday.

The 37th Annual Woollybear Festival is Sunday led again by perennial host Dick Goddard, well-known Cleveland TV weatherman. The big day will feature entertainment, races for kids, woolly bears and one of Ohio’s biggest parades.

The day kicks off with the YMCA’s annual World’s Greatest Kids’ Race at 9 a.m. at Vermilion High School stadium. Open to children ages 1 to 12, it offers events ranging from a five-yard “crawl” for babies, to a 550-yard dash for 12-year-olds.

Goddard’s fellow FOX-8 TV’s Big Chuck and Little John will oversee the Woollybear 500 Caterpillar Race preliminaries at 11 a.m. Woollybear costume judging will be at the same time.

The festival’s 1:30 p.m. parade is about two hours long and it features more than 15 marching bands, vintage cars, floats, animals, clowns and numerous TV and radio personalities.

Beauford, owned by Lee Lapp of Avon Lake, got all dressed up in 2004 for the woollybear costume contest on the main stage in Vermilion. (CT file photo.)

Beauford, owned by Lee Lapp of Avon Lake, got all dressed up in 2004 for the woollybear costume contest on the main stage in Vermilion. (CT file photo.)

The parade route follows east on Liberty Avenue to Grand Street, then turns onto Sandusky Street before heading to South Street and ending at Decatur Street.

Finals of the Woollybear 500 Caterpillar Race are at 5 p.m., as is the official Woollybear winter weather prediction. Famed for their long, thick fur-like appearance, the woollybear is the larval form of many species of Arctiid moths. Black at both ends with a band of coppery red in the middle, the adult moth is dull yellow to orange in color. Folklore says the severity of the coming winter can be predicted by the amount of black on the caterpillar.

The Woollybear Festival began in Birmingham in 1972, featured a small parade and drew a couple thousand visitors. In eight years the event had grown so big and so popular, it was moved to Vermilion.

Little John Rinaldi (far left) and Big Chuck Schadowski (far lower right), from TV station Fox 8 Cleveland, host the annual Woollybear 500 races. (CT file photo.)

Little John Rinaldi (far left) and Big Chuck Schadowski (far lower right), from TV station Fox 8 Cleveland, host the annual Woollybear 500 races. (CT file photo.)

Sponsored by Fox8 News, Discount Drug Mart, Vermilion Sharpnack Chevrolet and Vermilion Liberty Ford among others, the festival offers lots of food and craft booths. Most are located at Victory Park on state Route 60, and Exchange Park at Route 60 and Liberty Avenue.

Parking is available at Sailorway Middle School off of Route 60 and Sailorway Drive. Shuttle buses will take visitors between the parking area and festival grounds for $5.

Other parking, operated by various groups and clubs as fundraisers, can be found around town.

The Mystic Belle, a small sternwheel cruise boat, will offer rides along the Vermilion River during the Woollybear Festival, giving visitors views of the town and Lagoons area.

To learn more, visit VermilionOhioNews.com.

Send your Amherst and Vermilion news to Steve Fogarty, 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.