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home : community : history September 27, 2022

7/26/2022 12:01:00 AM
Soldiers' Reunion Is Aug. 14-18
Annual series of events honors military veterans
Last year’s parade was a big hit during the Soldiers’ Reunion week. This year’s events are scheduled for Aug. 14 through 18.
(Photo Courtesy Sons of the American Revolution)

Last year’s parade was a big hit during the
Soldiers’ Reunion week. This year’s events are
scheduled for Aug. 14 through 18.

(Photo Courtesy Sons of the American Revolution)

Lincoln Herald Staff

NEWTON––It’s all about patriotism and honoring military veterans.

It’s the 133rd annual Soldiers’ Reunion, and it’s coming up in downtown Newton, Aug. 14-18, according to event spokesman and committee co-chairman Yerby Ray.

“Planning is under way for Catawba County’s historic patriotic festival, the Soldiers’ Reunion, when, for a week in mid-August, its war veterans are honored,” Ray said Friday, citing the many family-oriented activities at the series of events.

This includes cruising with vintage vehicles, musical entertainment, beauty pageants, athletic events and a highlight parade that focuses on the theme of American patriotism. The reunion will kick off Sunday, Aug. 14, following earlier beauty pageants. Events continue through Reunion Day on Thursday, Aug. 18, the traditional “third Thursday of August” date that has been in place since the events began as a way of honoring local veterans of the War Between the States. The showcase Soldiers Reunion parade will take place that day, as Ray informed.

“About 10,000 people visit downtown Newton throughout the week to take part in the festivities,” he said, adding that the Newton American Legion Post No. 16 and the Newton Merchants Association sponsor and organize this week-long celebration.

Ray continued that the Soldiers Reunion observance in Newton is believed to be one of the longest-running, non-holiday patriotic celebrations in America. The tradition began in Newton, July 4, 1889, when veterans of the War Between the States answered a statewide call for recognition of their wartime service and to register for pensions. The gathering on Newton’s court square led to annual veterans’ reunions, starting the popular patriotic event then called the “Old Soldiers Reunion.” Today, the celebration offers a variety of events for veterans and the community to enjoy, many of which are still centered around Newton’s famous 98-year-old court square. 

Cruise on in!
The week begins with a cruising car show on Sunday, Aug. 14. Vintage cars and trucks from across the decades up to 1972 will be on display, beginning at 2:30 p.m. The classic vehicles will cruise city streets starting at 6:30 p.m.

Then concerts on the square will entertain the crowds on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning nightly at 7:30. Gospel music will fill the air Aug. 15. Beach music will get everybody moving Aug. 16, and plans are in motion for a country music concert Aug. 17.

Also Aug. 17, the late-afternoon baby parade will take place on the east side of the square. Youngsters will be judged based on their patriotic costumes and decorated conveyances. Winners will be selected in various age categories, as Ray informed.

“The week peaks on Thursday, known as Reunion Day,” he continued. “Events begin at around 9 a.m., as artists, craftsmen, local businesses and food vendors set up around the courthouse square. A 10 a.m. memorial service on the west side of the square is followed by a jazz concert, running from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The American Legion hosts a mid-day fish fry for veterans at its headquarters. At 4 p.m. the official reunion ceremony begins on the east side of the square, when a guest speaker delivers a keynote address, and the beauty pageant winners are introduced.

“The anticipated Soldiers Reunion Parade immediately follows the ceremony, and the keynote speaker typically serves as the grand marshal, leading the parade on a one-mile route through downtown Newton,” he added. “The parade attracts 8,000 to 10,000 viewers, due to the numerous entries and floats, all of which must have a patriotic theme. Municipalities and schools are among the groups from across the county to be represented in the parade.”

Ray also informed that the event’s committee is seeking volunteers to help with all of the events.

“There is an opportunity for everyone,” he said, “and we would love to see the community respond like the men and women of Catawba County did over the last two centuries when they were needed.”

He added that there are opportunities for Scout troops, car clubs, veterans organizations and good citizens to volunteer and help honor local veterans. Ray invites you to look up “Soldiers Reunion in Newton, N.C.” on Facebook or call him at (828) 994-4042 to volunteer your skills and time.

Businesses and groups are charged $380 to enter a float in the parade. Local businesses that decorate a vehicle to advertise their company are charged $50. Any church, school or other non-profit organization may participate in the parade at no cost.

For information on entering a float in the parade or for information on becoming a vendor during Reunion Week, contact Wayne Dellinger, the event’s general chairman, at Pin Station in Newton at (828) 466-2695.

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