July 26th - July 28th, 2018 Wauseon will celebrate a tradition, a local story that is now over 84 years old: Everyone Loves the Wauseon Homecoming!
Since the street fairs in early Wauseon, the tradition of coming home to celebrate has been evolving into the present day three-day festival. Eventually the name "Wauseon Homecoming" was chosen for the annual gathering. The "big events" of the historic celebration include the Kiddy Parade, The Homecoming Queen Contest, and the Homecoming Parade.
Over the years, the Kiddy Parade, featuring our creative hometown kids, boasted of small creative floats, decorated bicycles and kids in costume. This parade was the kids' version of the Grand Homecoming Parade sponsored by Wauseon merchants, industry, clubs and organization. Enthusiasm for the Kiddy Parade mirrored the community's enthusiasm for the "Big Parade." The award winning entrants to the Kiddy Parade award winners were always featured in the Grand Homecoming Parade on the last day of the festival.
For decades, the Wauseon Homecoming Queen contestants represented the local businesses by wearing a sponsor's banner on the competition stage. There were no swimsuits early in the history of the contest, only beautiful evening gowns, a brief prepared statement and questions for the finalists. The winner of the crown would ride in the Homecoming Parade with the Queen's Court. For many years the Homecoming Queen pageant was affiliated with the Miss America Pageant preliminary competitions. The Miss Northwest Ohio Pageant and the Miss Top of Ohio Pageants both welcomed the Wauseon Homecoming Queens. Ann Andrews (Foote) was one of the Homecoming Queens who was runner up to Miss Ohio, and Susan Short, a member of the Homecoming Queen's Court, later attended the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City as Miss Michigan!
The Wauseon Homecoming Parade was known for the large decorated floats. Merchants, industrial and civic organizations and church groups took great pride in producing the extravagant floats that were often featured in the Toledo Blade. The parade attracted multiple regional marching bands and twirling units. Always welcomed in the parade were the local fire trucks and police units and the Honor Guard. The parade route was lined far in advance with local residents who would mark out their spaces to view the parade, and many tourists came to Wauseon specifically to admire the grand spectacle.
In addition to these events, the Homecoming included the flower show, the art show, bingo booths, a strolling rube band, and the Elks wheel; also live stage entertainment and a talent show. Along with the Merry-Go- Round, Tilt-A Whirl and Scrambler, residents will remember the Ferris wheel and Rock-a-Plane rides that defined the opposite ends of the Homecoming venue on North and South Fulton Streets.The drawing for the Wauseon Homecoming car kept the crowds waiting on the last evening of the street fair until the closing moments of the celebration. Fireworks in recent years have added one more bit of fun as the closing act. The Wauseon Homecoming has become one of the city's most important downtown events, bringing the community together, raising support for the Wauseon Parks, and celebrating the heritage of the town.
The tradition lives on! This year Fulton Street will again be filled with our families, friends and neighbors gathering to create new memories for the next generation. Come on down to share your Homecoming stories, and build some new ones in this historic 84th Wauseon Homecoming Celebration!