One of Wellston’s newest businesses, Rocket Pizza, was presented with a Community Improvement Award by the OHillCo Society in a presentation made Saturday evening following the Grand Finale Parade of the Ohio Hill Country Festival. Pictured is OHillCo Society member Sam Souders (right) presenting the plaque to Amanda Molihan (left) and Nathan Molihan (right) of Rocket Pizza. Other Community Improvement Award recipients were Happenings Bistro and Wellston Dairy Queen. (Telegram Photo by Pete Wilson)
One of Wellston’s newest businesses, Rocket Pizza, was presented with a Community Improvement Award by the OHillCo Society in a presentation made Saturday evening following the Grand Finale Parade of the Ohio Hill Country Festival. Pictured is OHillCo Society member Sam Souders (right) presenting the plaque to Amanda Molihan (left) and Nathan Molihan (right) of Rocket Pizza. Other Community Improvement Award recipients were Happenings Bistro and Wellston Dairy Queen. (Telegram Photo by Pete Wilson)

The 2021 Ohio Hill Country Festival in Wellston is now part of history and the organizers believe it will be remembered as a very good one.

Buoyed by perfect weather, the five-day festival drew large crowds on its big finale day on Saturday, Sept. 11. Many people lined the streets for the 85-unit Grand Finale Parade that evening and the main festival area was packed afterwards for the final activities, including a concert by The Players Club and the announcement and crowning of the 2022 festival royalty. Longtime resident and retired local teacher Francis Newman was once again in the spotlight as the official festival grand marshal.

“We had perfect weather and a perfect crowd,” OHillCo Society President Joe Mahle told The Telegram as the festival was closing. “It was very successful.”

The 2020 festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 restrictions and this year’s festival was conducted as new cases are increasing. Mahle said he felt the rising COVID-19 concerns limited the participation of some bands in the Grand Finale Parade and may have reduced the potential attendance a bit. However, the festival had no mandated restrictions and it appeared most people were just eager to get out and enjoy themselves.

“We went through a ton of hand sanitizer,” Mahle remarked about the OHillCo Society’s attempts to make things as safe as possible for festival goers and participants.

Mahle also publicly thanked the members of the OHillCo Society for their hard work and dedication, not only during the festival, but also in planning, organizing and setting up the festival.

“A lot goes on that nobody sees,” Mahle told the crowd. The all-volunteer group meets on a monthly basis, but more often in the final two months before the festival.

2022 Royalty Crowned

As the festival ended late Saturday night, the last order of business was the announcing and crowning of the 2022 royalty at all three age levels, which took place at the Hozer Pizza Stage. President Mahle had the honor of making the announcements.

The new queen is Chloe Wilbur with Olivia Hagerty as the First Attendant and Haily Goheen as the Second Attendant. The 2022 Junior Miss is Aarolyn Dupree with Chenede Cardwell being the First Attendant and Shelby Smith the Second Attendant. The 2022 Little Miss is Sloan Hutchinson with Ava Fenwick being named as the First Attendant and Presley Childers as the Second Attendant.

Members of the 2020 Ohio Hill Country Festival royalty crowned their successors. Chloe Johnson was the 2020 Ohio Hill Country Festival Queen with Bella Womeldorf serving as the First Attendant and Leslie Hartley as the Second Attendant. The 2020 Junior Miss Queen was Mazie Wyatt with Hannah Petersen as the First Attendant and Maggie Lambert as the Second Attendant. The 2020 Little Miss Queen was Brenlei Floyd with Macy Thompson being the First Attendant and Karlee McCorkle the Second Attendant.

9/11, Stephanie Moon Remembered

The OHillCo Society leadership realized that the festival’s finale day fell on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 “Attack on America” and planned for a brief recognition segment from the Hozer Pizza Stage immediately following Saturday evening’s parade.

OHilllCo Society member and parade emcee John Pelletier recounted the basic facts of that horrific day in American history, noting that a total of 2,977 were killed, including many firefighters and other emergency responders who answered the call to duty. Wellston resident Kylee Hendershott was then called to the microphone and performed a rousing and powerful rendition of the patriotic anthem, “God Bless The USA.”

OHillCo Society members also offered public tributes to the late Stephanie Moon on the 10th anniversary of her death. Stephanie was a much beloved and dedicated member of the OHillCo Society, who died after a battle with cancer. In her honor and memory, OHillCo Society members wore pink T-shirts on Saturday. There was also a full-page ad in memory ad in the official festival program with her picture and the following inscription: “In Memory of our friend, Stephanie Moon, 11/16/1960 – 9/26/2011, ‘The Queen of Hearts’.”

Also, when the new festival royalty was crowned, the members of the 2020 royalty announced they were presenting pass-down pins to the new royalty members in honor of Stephanie Moon.

Festival Winners Listed

The following awards were announced following the Grand Finale Parade:

School Float – 1. Bundy Elementary School.

Non-School Float – 1. Be Our Guest, 2. Grace Baptist Fellowship, 3. Wellston Lions Club Santa Float.

Bands – 1. Christian Life Academy.

Baton Groups – 1. Show Dolls, 2. Eclipse.

The OHillCo Society also announced the recipients of Community Improvement Awards to the three following Wellston businesses: Rocket Pizza, The Happenings Bistro and Wellston Dairy Queen.

The winners of the Karaoke Contest on Friday evening were: 1. Sarah Stephens, 2. Kylee Hendershott, 3. Mikayla Lodwick.

The winner of the Dessert Contest on Saturday morning was Kim Ridge Burroughs.

The winners of the Dan Lockard, Jr. Memorial Car Show held on Saturday were:

Best-Of-Show Award – Roy Salt.

Hector Preston Award – Raymond Besco.

People’s Choice Award – Delbert Russ.