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After Harvest: Ellinwood celebrates 'home' with annual parade

 ELLINWOOD — This year’s Ellinwood After Harvest Festival Parade lived up to its theme, “Home is Where Our Story Begins.”
From local law enforcement officers at the head of the parade to Great Bend Saddle Club members at – where else? – the end, the parade featured Barton County residents and native Kansans.
As the parade got under way down Main St., announcer Joe Curtiss took the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, please devote your attention overhead and you will see Tim Welch flying an Airtractor 401 for the Ellinwood Flying Service.” The Kansas Highway Patrol car carried “Ellinwood’s own” Lt. Steve Billinger and his son John. Duane “Schwabie” Schwab was the grand marshal and Richard Kimple was this year’s Distinguished Citizen. His grandchildren could be seen wearing “Distinguished Grandchild” T-Shirts.
This being an off-year for elections, few politicians braved the summer heat. The exception was Sen. Mitch Holmes. Former Rep. Bill Wolf made an appearance in his 1921 Model T Ford. Mayor Frank Koelsch rode a horse-drawn “beer wagon,” honoring Ellinwood’s former M.K. Wolf Brewery.
As Trish Dove drove past the review stand in a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, Curtiss confided that she drove one in high school and to the Saturday night dances at Kimbo’s.
Earlier, when the emergency response vehicle passed the review stand, Curtiss said Ellinwood Emergency Medical Service set a record with 1,343 calls in 2012. “We have won the National Service of the Year,” he said, adding Ellinwood EMS is the only service in Kansas to have won the award.
Ellinwood’s After Harvest Festival is a time for high school reunions, and there were floats from the Class of 1958 (with rocking chairs to Rock Around the Clock), Class of ‘68 (with a VW “bug” and tie dye T-shirts), Class of ‘78 (seated as a classroom, with a retired English teacher Mike Westerman at the blackboard) and classes of 1963, 1993, 2003, 2008 and 2013. “The Class of ‘73 does not have a float entry,” Curtiss said, but would be meeting at the American Legion after to parade to discuss how not to let that happen again.
The 40th annual Ellinwood After Harvest Festival began last Thursday and wrapped up Saturday with several events, including a dance.