Wednesday, July 10th, 2019
Summer Moon Fest honors Armstrong
By Leslie Gartrell
WAPAKONETA - An entire year dedicated to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Wapakoneta native Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon will come to a head as the Summer Moon Festival kicks off Friday and continues through July 21.
The festival has been extended to 10 days full of additional festivities to celebrate the anniversary of the June 20, 1969 moon landing.
"We have been working on the 2019 celebration for three years," said Donna Grube, Greater Grand Lake Region Visitors Center director. "They have so many activities and events planned."
The celebration begins with a hot-air balloon rally on Friday and Saturday at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds. Balloon launches will will take place at 6:30 p.m. both days and a night-glow event will take off at 8:45 p.m. Saturday.
Local restaurants, cafes, bars, ice cream shops, coffee shops and a brewery will set forth their "First on the Moon" spirit with a selection of fun eats, tasty treats and delicious drinks that showcase a galaxy of great food.
"We have 13 food or drink places and 28 items on the trail," Grube said. "We will have cinnamoon pancakes at Lucky Steer, buckeye on the moon vanilla ice cream parfait at Max's Dairy and one of my favorites, Houston we have a pot roast at Bob Evans."
Moeller Brew Barn in Maria Stein, the only Mercer County venue participating in the Moon Menu Trail, will have First on the Moon Pale Ale in cans and on draft.
A map of the venues will be available at the visitors bureau office in St. Marys, the Wapakoneta Chamber of Commerce and at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta.
The festival also will feature the world's largest Moonpie. Made by The Chattanooga Bakery, the disk-shaped dessert will be more than 36 inches in diameter and will be displayed in downtown Wapakoneta. The official "eating" will take place at 7:30 p.m. July 19.
Wapakoneta will return to its roots by hosting a parade similar to the one honoring Armstrong's homecoming in 1969. This 50th-anniversary parade will begin at 3 p.m. at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds and end in the historic downtown.
Downtown Wapakoneta will come alive as the streets are closed for four days and nights of celebration July 17-20. Highlights include carnival games and attractions, live music with 15 free concerts on two stages, a beer garden, food trucks, river boating, wiener dog racing and a boutique and homemade goods market.
Five NASA astronauts will be on hand July 20 during the Summer Moon Festival's annual 5K and 10K runs, Grube said. They also will be at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum the same day. The museum will continue the festivities July 19-21 with rocket launches, NASA astronaut presentations, interactive science experiments and more.
The 10 days of celebration will come to a close with the Wink at the Moon Concert at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum at 7 p.m. July 21. The Lima Area Concert Band will provide live music. The evening also may include a few special 50th anniversary surprises.
When the concert ends, participants, as suggested by Carol Armstrong at her husband's passing in 2012, are encouraged to give the first man on the lunar surface a little wink at the moon.