SOLON— Almost every small town or city has an annual festival and ours is going on this weekend. Solon Beef Days began in 1971 when the fire department, Optimists Club, Jaycees and American Legion got together to re-enact what they referred to as an “Old Time Celebration.” The Johnson County Cattlemen’s Association came in to cook steaks and this local meat product provided a name for the event. Later, the Pork Producers Association got involved and pork burgers are now served: steak dinner is $10; steak sandwich is $5, and pork burger is $3. A bargain for carnivores. Octogenarians walk to the festival to purchase the cheap food and carry it home on trays brought from their kitchens.
As a vegetarian and flexitarian household, the association with beef was a turn-off for us when we moved to the area. Nonetheless, we participated by taking our daughter to try the carnival rides when she was young. Later, I got involved in helping the public library serve sandwiches to festival goers. As time passed I came to enjoy being a small part of the festival.
For some, Solon Beef Days is the time of year to let loose, have a few beers in the beer tent and designate a driver to get them home. This year there was a booth to arrange for a ride home for the intoxicated. It wasn’t used much.
The town re-built the bandstand in the center of the old part of town, and there is live music both nights. The hay bale toss on Friday is popular, and the parade on Saturday attracts civic groups and winds its way through town. The parade crosses Highway One to go past the care center where wheel chairs with residents are lined up on the south side of the building. This was a later addition to the route to include everyone in town.
The legion has a food tent, bingo is called on Main Street, there is a street dance, and something for everyone. Whatever money is left after paying the bills is donated to community groups by the Beef Days Committee. I’ve never eaten the steak or pork at the festival, but enjoy socializing with friends, neighbors and people I don’t know on a warm summer evening. In the end, who wouldn’t?