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News :: 2014 Party in the Park Parade Grand Marshals: Dwight & Bonnie Sanders
· 7:00pm June 25th, 2014
The Party in the Park Committee has picked their Grand Marshal’s for this year’s festival and they didn’t have to go too far to reach them. The committee has selected Dwight & Bonnie Sanders for their commitment to our community, agriculture and the overall betterment of our entire area.
There probably are very few families that have not been to the Sanders Farm to pick out pumpkins, squash and gourds or see the Christmas lights and displays. The unique part and also fun is seeing the different animals that they have on their farm too. The biggest and most famous attraction is “Big Bird”. Big Bird is an ostrich that not only doesn’t mind the attention but one year even decided to venture out on his own but thankfully was captured and brought home safely.
The couple has one child, Jason and he and his wife Angie have four children. Jason and his family currently reside in Logan, Utah. Jason was our first Jr. Grand Marshal back in 1999 when the tradition started. Jason had the thrill of being on the Johnny Carson show with his creative chicken feeder.
Dwight has been farming his whole life with the exception when he went off to college. The two were married in 1973 and that started a lifelong love of sharing their knowledge of agriculture and helping others. Right away they saw that there really wasn’t anyone selling pumpkins in the area so that is how it all started. Those pumpkin seeds now provide pumpkins for the 1300 plus youth that tour their farm annually along with the thousands that stop by to get their family pumpkins, squash and gourds. Each year they thought it would be fun to have a new variety of squash for everyone to try and after 40 years growing squash, they made their farm in to one that has the biggest variety in the Midwest.
Their love of farming and watching kids pick their own ear of corn or pumpkin, really gave them the satisfaction that kids were learning a little bit about agriculture and hopefully the understanding that corn just doesn’t show up on a store shelf magically. Their annual tours include groups of all sizes from pre-schools, schools, church groups, etc. from our school district and many other communities including the Cedar Rapids area.
Bonnie has been dealing with some medical issues for some years and that combined with the very strenuous work of picking all these crops, they have decided to shut down the pumpkin, squash & gourd part of their farm operation. Dwight will continue to farm on the land that his Dad started in 1956 and Dwight himself began farming in 1970. The two are very thankful for those that have helped at their Pumpkin Picking Party held for several years now to get the crop in and to everyone that has visited their farm over the years.
The Sanders plan to continue their Christmas lights & displays annually. This tradition started back in 1948 with just a few lights and has grown in to a beautiful site that can be seen from miles away. In 1960 the family moved to their current home and the tradition not only was still displayed but kept growing and growing. Every year when the family gets together for Thanksgiving, the lights start going up to prepare for another holiday season.
Over the years, the Sanders have been very active with church activities, 4-H, FFA and their love of the county fair. Their smiles that they had telling their story were just a mirror of all the smiles that they have given the thousands of us that have had our lives touched by them.
This is one couple that Vinton should be very proud of for their commitment to our children, families, community and entire area. Congratulations to Dwight & Bonnie Sanders, Grand Marshals, Vinton Party in the Park, 2014!
Streets Will Turn Pink on Friday!
Party in the Park attendees to have opportunities to help others