The biggest community celebration in town, Green Days, is back this year June 19-22. Green Days began in 1996 as an event celebrating Johnston’s agriculture tradition. The Johnston Chamber of Commerce worked with Johnston’s many nursery and greenhouse operations, local garden clubs and other groups to start this tradition and helped it grow to be one of Iowa’s leading summer festivals.
Today, the Green Days activities include a parade, carnival, children’s activities, entertainment in the beverage garden, rib cook-off contest, Bill Riley Talent Search, 5K walk and run and much more. So round up the family, head on over to the library grounds, and don’t miss a single event.
The weekend kicks off with several fun events on Thursday night. One of the highlights, back for its sixth year, is the rib cook-off featuring eats from five local restaurants. Two bones are available for $3, so you can gather a nice slab of ribs from each participating restaurant for $15. 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. There will be winners in two divisions: people’s choice and Green Days committee choice. Last year’s people’s choice 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 “Frozen,” which will start at 6 p.m. Otherwise, head on over to the 17th annual Light the Night for Sight Walk, in its fourth 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. The walk begins at 7:30 p.m.
Also returning to Green Days is the car show, this time featuring a KIOA car give-away. There will also be a youth concert at the Simpson Barn. Feel free to visit the carnival for plenty of fun, including all-you-can-ride attractions for $20.
Bring the whole family on Friday evening 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 sixth year on Friday evening is the 5K run/walk honoring Karen Coaldrake. Runners can enjoy a casual and relaxed race honoring one of Johnston’s own. In years past, the event has drawn more than 400 runners. Proceeds have been donated to groups including the library, schools and other local organizations.
Organizer Todd Keech says 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 active locally, and proceeds from the 5K have supported local organizations that were important to her.
The run/walk will begin with check-in at 6 p.m. followed by the race at 7 p.m., starting at the Johnston Public Library. There is also a free kids’ run following the walk.
Start Saturday off right with the Johnston Firefighter’s Association’s Green Days Pancake Breakfast 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 their commitment to fire prevention and public awareness.
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 Hy-Vee 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.
Saturday afternoon the fun continues 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. to 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 offer free vision testing for youngsters age 6 months to 4.5 years in the library from noon to 2 p.m. Kids can also check out the kids craft and balloon artist in the library as well.
A new event this year also takes place at noon at St. Paul Presbyterian Church. The Garden to Table event will feature information on community gardens, food and garden tours and demonstrations from local chefs and nutritionists.
The Bill Riley talent search will be back at Green Days again on Saturday from 1-4:30 p.m. Categories of competition are: Vocalists: classical, country or contemporary; Dancers: tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, acrobatic or baton; and 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.
Also new this year is the first bags tournament organized by Tailgate Addix. Check out the Green Days website — www.johnstongreendays.org — for more details.
Green Days wouldn’t be complete without even more entertainment and live music, and this year is no exception. Check out the sounds of local favorite Standing Hampton on Saturday from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Chair Darlys Purdy encourages everyone to get out there and support the events.
“The Chamber is excited to host Green Days again this year,” 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.”
The Green Days committee has expanded its advertising and promotion again this year, and they have been pleasantly surprised at the great community support. They want to thank their sponsors for their involvement.
For more information on all the events of Green Days, visit johnstongreendays.org.