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Thursday marks the 72nd consecutive summer the citizens of DeWitt have come together to celebrate the Annual DeWitt Ox Roast. Hosted by the DeWitt Memorial Association, the festival will not roast an actual ox, but all proceeds will be used to support the city.
“Back when the DeWitt Ox Roast was first established in the 1940s, they actually did roast an ox,” said Dave VanArsdall, president of the DeWitt Memorial Association.
VanArsdall is confident the festival's community-chosen events will be a hit.
“We’re bringing in something new this year,” said VanArsdall, “They’re called body bubbles.” Encased from the waist to the armpits in a rubber ball, festival goers can don pot-belled suits to bounce off their friends and family.
“We expect to see some crazy kids that really want a go at their mom, dad and friends,” said VanArdsall.
The three-day extravaganza spans a breadth of activities and locations in downtown DeWitt.
“Friday night is a family fun night,” said VanArdsall. “There will be clowns, face painting, balloon blowing and if there’s any brave souls who want to try, there’s karaoke.”
The Northpointe Community Church band will perform on Thursday while a parade and firework display on Saturday closes out the festival. The traditional carnival will provide some kinetic fun, offering an all-you-can-ride pass for $15 on Thursday and $25 tickets on Friday and Saturday night.
“For $25 you get 20 tickets, one free ride and a $1 off coupon for concessions,” said VanArdsall.
But festivities aside, for VanArdsall, the DeWitt Ox Roast is more than just three action-packed days of food, rides and good-times, it’s about helping his community.
Since 1946, the money from the DeWitt Ox Roast has gone to maintain the DeWitt Memorial Building, a “community center and tribute to Clinton area military veterans that paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said VanArdsall.
Growing from a modest carnival held on the cities school grounds, VanArdsall takes pride in the fact that the DeWitt Ox Roast as become a community-wide celebration that benefits families and local businesses.
“A lot of people will plan family reunions around the Ox Roast, and it gives downtown businesses a lot of exposure,” said VanArdsall. “The festival is right in the center of town, so a lot of downtown businesses arrange their hours to be open during the festival.”
With the DeWitt community patiently awaiting this year’s festival, VanArdsall is already three steps ahead.
“The 75th DeWitt Ox Roast is just a few years away, I might see if I can find somebody to help us out so we could actually have a true ox roast,” said VanAdrsall, “That would be nice.”
"DeWitt Ox Roast" Thursday, Aug. 17-19
FREE Downtown DeWitt https://www. dewittoxroast.org/