This weekend, Bonner Springs’ area residents will be participating in an ancient and cherished activity. They will be attending the Tiblow Days’ celebration. While the local event certainly isn’t that old – the idea of community celebrations or festivals dates back thousands of years.
Tiblow Days will be held Thursday night through Saturday night and will include a wide range of activities. Certainly it is the busiest weekend of the year and our population will swell by quite a bit. Let me first say that parking is always at a premium during the celebration, so please show patience and courtesy.
A community festival dates back to very ancient times. I found a mention of a festival held in Egypt about 4500 BC. Another source listed one of the first festivals as being held in India in 1500 BC. However, I doubt it was that joyous of an event. It seems Aryans defeated and subdued India and in an attempt to placate the population and try to prevent violence, organized a festival. I wasn’t able to find out how well the idea worked.
The Greeks and Romans liked their festivals, too. The Romans had festivals every time they won a battle with a major parade showing off prisoners, plundered treasure and, in some cases, wild, exotic animals that were captured.
As time passed festivals began to change and adopted a religious theme or they were held to commemorate successful harvests. In fact, during the next six weeks Bonner Springs will be host to a “harvest” event – the Renaissance Festival. It is a lighthearted recreation of a 1500 era harvest festival. I have read that almost all ancient English villages had fall celebrations to commemorate successful harvests. As an aside – I wonder what they would have done after a year like we have had when the harvest was meager.
They also celebrated in the spring when winter ended. Of course you have to remember how hard and fragile life was in those days. Just making it through winter was probably cause for joy.
Probably the first celebration of that sort in the New World was Thanksgiving. It has always shocked me that the Pilgrims who weren’t exactly a joyous group, would allow such a celebration. They even had sports and contests according to what I discovered.
Over the years, the idea for community festivals became popular throughout the United States. By the late 1800s, towns wanted to show off their progress, so they scheduled an event to bring in outsiders. Certainly one of the most popular celebrations was the Fourth of July. Fall agricultural fairs were a close second.
In the 19th century politicians got in the act and held celebrations featuring free food and booze, along with political rhetoric to draw voters. I have read the events were well attended since folks didn’t have much entertainment is those days.
When we lived in Mulvane, they celebrated “old Settlers’ Days’ which is nearly 140 years old. McPherson has its “all schools day” which was started to honor eighth grade graduates and has developed into a huge community event which is a century old. A number of Johnson County communities have major events with long histories. Bonner Springs’ Tiblow Days dates back to the 1960s and is a relative newcomer to the festival scene. It was founded by the Jaycees. When the Jaycees folded, the Chamber of Commerce took responsibility for the celebration in 1979.
Before that Bonner had a variety of celebrations which lasted for a few years and faded away. Looking over some of the old advertisements, you can see t hat relatively little has changed in the ensuing years. The events quite often featured band concerts, children’s contest, cooking and baking contests along with a political speaker and baseball games. There were a couple of differences, however. Certainly in “bone dry, pro-prohibition” Kansas, there wouldn’t have been a beer garden. The other taboo for the time was dancing which was opposed by the churches. Despite the differences, all that I have read is that the events were very popular.
I believe the reason that Tiblow Days is successful is that much of the community gets involved and participates in the event. If you look at the program you’ll see a wide variety of events and activities ranging from the mayor’s banquet on Thursday evening to a relatively new addition - the barbeque contest. The old favorites will be back including the Bonner Springs city band concert at 7 p.m. on Friday. Yes, there will be a carnival, car show, craft booths and local organizations selling food. In short, it should be a lot of fun for all ages.
To me, the big event has always been the parade at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. No, the parade has never been rained out, although we have suffered through some hot weather. Maybe we’ll get lucky this year and have a weekend with temperatures in the low 80s and a nice rain starting early Sunday morning. See you at Tiblow Days.