The biggest community celebration in town, Green Days, is back this year June 13-16. While Green Days began in 1996 as an event celebrating Johnston’s agriculture tradition, it has grown into a community-wide celebration. From parades to picnics, cook-offs to a carnival, this event is sure to please people of all ages. So round up the family, head on over to the library grounds, and don’t miss a single event!
The weekend kicks off with two fun events on Thursday night: a rib cook-off featuring some of Johnston’s best eats and a Light the Night For Sight Walk put on by Prevent Blindness Iowa.
This is the fifth year for the finger-licking good rib competition. Five participating restaurants will be serving baby back ribs, two ribs for $2. So if you’re hungry, get a sampling from each place and end up with a slab of ribs for $10 plus a free beer — a great deal. And if you’re not a rib eater — never fear. All the participating restaurants, as well as other food vendors, will have plenty of other crowd-pleasing offerings.
The event will run from 5-8 p.m. with a DJ playing tunes while you enjoy the eats. The winners will be announced at 8:30 p.m. after the final tallying of the ballots, and winners will be named in two divisions: People’s Choice and Green Days Committee Choice. Last year’s winner was Smokey D’s. The participating restaurants will be serving other side offerings as well, and other food vendors will be open until 9 p.m.
After you’ve stuffed your belly full of ribs, kids might be ready to wind down with a movie. The free family movie this year is “Wreck it Ralph” and will start at 6 p.m. Otherwise, head on over to the 16th annual Light the Night for Sight Walk, in its third year as a part of Green Days. The evening walk celebrates the gift of sight and emphasizes safe summer celebrations. The walk is designed to raise awareness about the dangers of consumer fireworks, educate the public on the importance of sports eye safety and UV protection, and provide information on how to preserve sight.
Registration is from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. with the walk beginning at 7:30 p.m. Walkers will enjoy a stroll on the sidewalks and trails around the Johnston Library. There is no entry fee to participate, but walkers are encouraged to collect pledges. Pledge of $100 will earn you a glow-in-the-dark T-shirt. Contact Prevent Blindness Iowa for additional information: 515-244-4341.
On Friday evening, bring the whole family and head on back for more music, food and fun. Food vendors will start serving at 5 p.m while the carnival gets rolling at 6 p.m. Live music includes DJ Danzing the Night Away from 5-8 p.m. and local favorite rockin’ soul band PowerPlay from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Also back for its fifth year on Friday evening is the 5K run/walk honoring Karen Coaldrake. Runners can enjoy a casual and relaxed race while honoring one of Johnston’s own. In years past the event has drawn more than 400 runners, and proceeds have been donated to groups like the library, schools and other local organizations.
Organizer Todd Keech said a core group of Karen’s friends wanted to develop a local 5K in honor of her and to raise some money in her name. She was very active locally, and they’ve supported local organizations that were important to her.
The run/walk will begin with check-in at 6 p.m., and the race at 7 p.m. The race will start at the Johnston Public Library. The entry fee is $20, and participants will receive a T-shirt. A free kids’ run will follow the walk; all who participate will receive a medal. No official race times will be posted. Strollers are welcome, but no dogs. Snacks will be served after the race. For more information, email Todd Keech at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start Saturday off right with the Johnston Firefighter’s Association’s Green Days Pancake Breakfast, sponsored by Community State Bank and Walmart and held at the fire station. There will be all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage. Station tours and apparatus viewing will also be available prior to the Green Days parade. All proceeds benefit the Johnston Firefighter’s Association and its commitment to fire prevention and public awareness. For more information, visit www.jfd39.org. If you have questions on this event, contact Andrew Winter at 276-5182.
The highlight of Saturday for many is the parade. The parade route is approximately 1.2 miles long and begins at the intersection of South Drive and Pioneer Parkway. The parade will proceed south along Pioneer Parkway and north on Greendale Road. The parade ends behind the HyVee and Village Square Mall.
The staging area for the parade is along South Drive on the corporate campus for Pioneer Hi-Bred International (7000 N.W. 62nd Ave.). If you enter South Drive off N.W. 62nd Avenue (traffic signals at the west end of the Pioneer campus), you will be heading in the correct direction for the parade. Entries must check in between 9 and 9:45 a.m. The parade will begin promptly at 10 a.m. For more information or to register, contact Dan Hudson at 276-7284. This year’s theme is Johnston: Live here, Play here, Shop here.
The fun continues Saturday afternoon with events for the whole family.
If you’re hungry after the parade, stop by the spaghetti feed at the Johnston Police Station. The event runs from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The department will also offer a public safety expo, including tours of the station, Kid Pix program, take-home DNA kits, car seat installations and inspections, a bicycle rodeo, bicycle helmet exchange for kids and bicycle registration.
This year the Lions Club will also be offering free vision testing for youngsters age six months to 4.5 in the library from noon to 3 p.m. Kids can also check out the kids craft and balloon artist in the library as well.
The Bill Riley talent search will be back at Green Days again on Saturday from 1:15 to 4:30 p.m. Categories of competition are: Vocalists: classical, country or contemporary; Dancers: tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, acrobatic or baton; Instrumentalists: classical or contemporary. Contestants are divided into two age groups, Sprout (2-12) and Seniors (13-21), A winner from the Junior and Senior divisions will advance to the 55th Iowa State Fair Bill Riley Talent Search Competition in August from which a senior grand champion wins a scholarship.
Returning professional judges are Jody White of Johnston plus Brent and Anne Peterson of Clive. For more information and to apply as a contestant contact person, send your name, complete address, birth date, social security number, phone and type of talent to: Debra Heldt, Talent Search Coordinator, Charter Bank, 5526 N.W. 86th St., Johnston, IA 50131; telephone: 515-331-2265; or email: deb@Charterbanker.com; additional members of the act need only list their birth date, age and town.
Green Days wouldn’t be complete without even more entertainment and live music, and this year is no exception. Check out the sounds of Loose Neutral on Saturday from 8 p.m. to midnight. Loose Neutral is a classic rock cover band based out of Marshalltown. The band has a unique blend of high energy rock, pop and country rounded out by tight, four and five part vocal harmonies.
Chair Darlys Purdy encourages everyone to get out and support the events.
“It’s a community event that brings people together,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun for all ages. Some of the events have proceeds that go back into the community to support Johnston area projects. It’s a really family-friendly atmosphere and a lot of fun.”