The City of Valparaiso came to life today in celebration of the annual Popcorn Festival, ran by Valparaiso Events. They daylong celebration pays homage to the roots of the popular popped partition right here in Valpo, and has since evolved into a wonderful tradition and celebration of friends, family, and the great community that makes up Valparaiso.
The day started off with the Popcorn Panic 5 mile run and 5K walk, a popular race which takes runners through the streets of Downtown Valpo. The Popcorn Parade is a major highlight of the Popcorn Fest. This year there were over 100 floats bedecked with popcorn that traversed the streets of Downtown Valparaiso. High school marching bands played upbeat tunes while their corresponding dance teams or cheerleaders stepped in time, the Cutest Baby Girl and Boy could be seen with their proud parents, Prompt Ambulance showed off their winning float, nonprofit groups walked in the parade with colorful themes and music, LOTS of candy was thrown to eager children, and the long popcorn covered list goes on.
“I ran the Popcorn Panic for a second time,” Quinlan Amundson, a Valpo resident said. “I liked the race. The course was nice and the weather was great for a run, unlike last year which was pretty hot. And now I’m going to stay and watch the Popcorn Parade for the first time ever.”
But that didn’t mean all the fun was just for the big kids, as right after the Popcorn Panic ended the Lil’ Kernels race began. The Lil’ Kernels race is a short run through Downtown designed for parents and kids alike to have a good time and be a part of the festival.
Amanda Bardozzi, whose kid participated in the Lil’ Kernels race, love participating in the Lil’ Kernels race every year.
“This is our third year,” Bardozzi told IIMM. “They like the race and think it’s great, so we love to be a part of it. I love it because it makes the festival so much bigger than just the parade.”
Check out all our Galleries of the Popcorn Festival below:
The Parade: a communal celebration of all things Valparaiso kicked off immediately following the Lil’ Kernels race. This year’s fest featured floats, community organizations marching, and the Valparaiso High School Marching Band; much to the delight of some the festival’s more die-hard parade attendees.
“I have been going to the parade for thirty years,” said Nila Grube at the parade. “The parade is a tradition that should be carried on forever. This year’s parade was fantastic, and I was so happy to see the Valpo High School Marching Band again!”
After the parade, attendees of Popcorn Fest spent the remainder of the afternoon checking out the great local offerings in booths and in the shops scattered about Lincolnway, and stopping by the South Shore CVA Main Stage to take in the great sounds of local and national acts performing all day.
Poi Dog Pondering played to a large and enthusiastic crowd that enjoyed dancing and singing along to all of their favorite songs. Fans young and old filled the lawn as the band's mix of charming vocals and uplifting rhythms filled the early evening sky.
"It's Poi Dog Pondering, how can you not like them?" said longtime fan Chris Galambos. "I've been of fan of theirs since 1996 when they were living above me in my apartment back in Chicago."
And as Poi Dog Pondering played festival goers into the early hours of the evening, it was clear through the smiles on everyone’s faces that 2015 was another great memory for the Popcorn Festival books.
Miss the parade? No worries, we hooked the GoPro up to the Steindler Signs bucket truck to bring you the overhead view of the entire thing! Watch Below: