Bigger, better, and more fun than ever — it’s all that, and it’s coming to Boone again in September.
Pufferbilly Days returns for its 37th annual run Thursday, Sept. 5 through Sunday, Sept. 8 with a full slate of favorite events plus a few new ones to keep it all interesting, according to Emily McColloch, events coordinator for the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Every year we try to improve every event,” says McColloch. “It’s going to be an exciting year.”
The 2013 theme serves as a great reminder that not only is Boone rich in railroad history, it’s also an important stop along the historic Lincoln Highway, which is celebrating its own centennial this year.
“Celebrating 100 Years of Rails and Roads” is the fitting theme for 2013, and visitors to Pufferbilly Days will have the opportunity to see some classic automobiles before they catch a ride on the rails at the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad.
Always something new
Throughout the festival, packing more fun in to each day seems to the goal as organizers strive to include a little something different for every member of the family,
“We’ve added some events, and Sunday is the day that we’ve really revamped,” explains McColloch.
The Little Miss and Mr. Pufferbilly Days contest will be brought back from the 2012 festival but is being moved from Thursday last year to Sunday this year. A new event on Sunday will be the barbecue cook-off contest.
“We still have openings for the barbecue cook-off, and we’re hoping to get that filled up,” she adds.
Another new event on Sunday is the free “End of Days” concert, featuring the Bill Martin Trio at Boone Valley Brewing at 1 p.m.
While the new events are most welcome, it’s hard to beat the old favorites.
Boone native Abby Doerder has been attending Pufferbilly Days her entire life, while her son, Ely, 4 years old, is a relative newcomer to the festival. They both agree on their favorite part of the festival: “We like the parade.”
More specifically, Ely adds, “I got a lot of candy at the parade.”
Daughter Paizley, 3 years old, demonstrates her adventurous side when she says, “I like the rides the best.”
For grandfather Roger Martin, seeing the Pufferbilly Days tradition continue is a satisfying experience.
“It’s a unique hometown celebration that a lot of people come back for every year. It celebrates our railroad heritage, and I just enjoy seeing a lot of people when they come back home,” Martin notes.
Jordan is grand marshal
It wouldn’t be Pufferbilly Days without the big parade on Saturday morning, and it would hardly be downtown Boone without the Jordan name on Story Street.
In the spotlight as grand marshal for this year’s parade is long-time local attorney Richard T. Jordan. He is the third of four generations of Jordans to practice law in Boone, following his father John W. Jordan and grandfather Richard F. Jordan.
The practice continues today with Richard and his son, John D. Jordan, practicing with the Jordan and Mahoney firm on Story Street.
Richard, a distinguished World War II veteran and Naval aviator, is in his 63rd year of the practice of law in Boone and is still going strong. To those who know him, he is characteristically humbled and surprised to be named grand marshal, saying simply that he “sees no reason” to be honored in this way.
John Jordan describes his father as a wonderful mentor and, on behalf of the Jordan family, thanked the community for the honor.
“We take a lot of pride that the community has recognized his long-time service over the years,” the younger Jordan says.
As grand marshal, Jordan will be part of the huge parade that kicks off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday through downtown Boone. All are welcome to line the route and enjoy the festivities.
Music fills the air
One of the busiest places for Pufferbilly Days each year is the entertainment complex downtown. Kicking things off on Thursday will be “Pufferbilly Unplugged” with a night of country oldies featuring Booneshine from 7 to 10 p.m.
Standing Hampton takes to the stage from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. with music from the ’70s right on up.
Saturday will see Burnin’ Sensations take over with music from today’s top 40 beginning at 7:30 p.m.
And don’t forget to catch the Bill Martin Trio performing at the Boone Valley Brewing Company at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Great time to visit the museum
At Pufferbilly Days and throughout the year, the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad is a popular family attraction for Central Iowans and beyond.
Samantha Ball remembers coming to learning about Kate Shelley and ride the trains when she was growing up. She returned to ride the dinner train as a young adult, and now as a busy mom living in Anderson, Ind., recently brought her children, Ryan, 3, and Ambriel, 9 months, for their first train ride during a back to Central Iowa to visit friends.
“We brought the kids up to get on the train, but we got here a little late,” Ball explains with a tinge of regret in her voice.
No matter for the kids, the family instead walked over to the James H. Andrew Railroad Museum. Ryan couldn’t care less about missing the actual train as he busied himself with a toy train set at the front of the museum.
“The museum definitely caught the kids’ attention,” Samantha says.
Her little boy was having a ball making the trains run himself, which must have been what the Andrew family had in mind when their generous donation created the museum. Rich with artifacts from the glory days of railroading, the museum is sure to transport older generations back in time. And, as young Ryan demonstrates, the museum can also lure in new generations to discover the appeal of railroads.
Volunteers make it happen
For McColloch, who took part in her first Pufferbilly Days last year, the celebration is the culmination of a full year’s worth of work at the Chamber and with the untold number of volunteers who make it all happen.
“I couldn’t even imagine how many people really come together and help,” she says. “We get new volunteers every year, and we have people who come back every year and do their part.”
While it’s a lot of work, enjoying the celebration for one’s self, seeing the community come alive, and watching other people have a great time is what McColloch enjoys most and is probably what brings the volunteers back year after year.
“I just love coming to see all the people out there having fun,” she says. “It’s definitely a big pay when you can see that and it makes it all worthwhile.”