Russellville festival includes caboose dedication

Parade largest yet for town

The chainsaw contest is an annual event at the Russellville Frog Leg Festival and Engine Show. John Otto earned his first win Saturday using one of several chainsaws he has built.

The chainsaw contest is an annual event at the Russellville Frog Leg Festival and Engine Show. John Otto earned his first win Saturday using one of several chainsaws he has built. Photo by Michelle Brooks.

RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. — Sawdust fell like snow at the Russellville City Park during the chainsaw competition, one of many events Saturday at the Frog Leg Festival and Engine Show.

Organizer R.L. Mantle and his wife, Colleen, zipped through a thick ash timber with a cross-cut saw like it was butter. And John Otto won his first chainsaw competition with a machine he built himself.

The annual event provides a competitive outlet for the tool participants use throughout the year, said participant Ken Reichel.

“There’s an adrenaline rush, like drag racing or mud racing,” Reichel said.

Earlier in the day, the parade uptown was the largest yet, said volunteer Sarah Stillfield.

The parade entry winners were the Cole County Republicans elected officials float, featuring local re-enactor Mark Rehagen as President Abraham Lincoln, first place; Paul LePage’s steam engine, second place; and the Red Hatters double-entry earned third place.

Chasity Sheffield watched the line of antique tractors, restored cars, recreational and emergency vehicles and local organizations from her front porch with her mother, Thelma Lowry, and her daughter Bethany Lowry, 11.

Afterward, they joined nearly 100 community members to dedicate the recently restored Union Pacific caboose relocated to the Railroad Park uptown.

Rehagen kicked off the dedication with a recitation of the president’s “affectionate farewell” from the Springfield, Ill., train station on Feb. 11, 1861.

The festival committee presented the city with a check for $14,000, representing proceeds from the last eight festivals, to cover the costs of the caboose restoration.

Patriotic cupcakes were offered at City Hall during an open house following the dedication.

Then, festivities were moved from uptown to City Park.

Little ones like Mason Lake, 1, enjoyed the Pony Palooza, with his grandmother Ruby Lake at his side. And older children found several playthings from the local vendors. Ryleigh Case, 9, had fun launching the foam arrows from a PVC pipe bow constructed by vendor Rick Bilderback.

Adult hobbyists showed off their own “toys.” David Burlingame and his parents, Glen and Linda, have been tinkering with small steam engines for more than 30 years, and Bernard Tappel’s Osage Bluff Blacksmithing tent is an annual favorite.

Earlier in the spring, local quilters created a queen-sized red, white and blue quilt, which drew $1,300 to benefit the festival during the live auction.

Festival committee volunteers were busy throughout the day grilling burgers, frying frog legs and powdering funnel cakes.

Other activities Saturday included a 12U girls softball tournament, the opening of the community pool, a street dance to benefit the Project Graduation 2014 and fireworks from Lions Club Field.

The festival commemorating the town’s 175th anniversary will continue today with a community worship service at 11 a.m., followed by a brunch to support the Central Missouri Food Bank Buddy Packs program and gospel music by Apostle’s Creek and Potter’s Wheel at the Cole County R-I Elementary School.

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