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Something for everyone at Town & Country Days

McKenzie Bailey (left) and her sister, Gracie (right), finish up their  towers before judging in the cookie stacking contest. Gracie looks on in frustration as half of her tower topples over just before judging. Photo by Zach Arbogast.
McKenzie Bailey (left) and her sister, Gracie (right), finish up their towers before judging in the cookie stacking contest. Gracie looks on in frustration as half of her tower topples over just before judging. Photo by Zach Arbogast.

More than just “a carnival,” Polo Town & Country Days was a five-day adventure that changed rapidly from one hour to the next.

Depending on what day, what hour, and what location you were standing at, you were part of a different story.

On Thursday, you might have been crowned as Polo’s newest adorable ambassadors, or winning luxury items for mere quarters an hour after that.

Friday, you may have been getting your face turned into a work of art, throwing toilet paper through basketball hoops, or scarfing down spaghetti and gelatin to the delight of friends and family.

Maybe on Saturday, you were showing off the most prized jewel of your car collection, strutting your stuff in a talent show, taking on all comers on the volleyball court, battling in front of the Polo Fire Station with nothing but water hoses, or winning $100 in a bags tournament.

Perhaps you just unwound on Sunday by watching a parade roll by.

Whether you were trying to dunk your aunt in the dunk tank or crossing the finish line on a tiny tractor, no two days were the same between Wednesday and Sunday during Polo’s yearly summer festival.

T&C days could be felt in the air as early as June 13, as Great American Shows rolled into town and got to work setting up rides and games all the way down Mason Street.

As the anticipation welled up seeing those colorful behemoths go up, the Polo Pool helped provide an outlet for the excitement by boasting the first event of the festival: pool games.

The first event being held by the pool is rather fitting, considering T&C days began in 1966 when the Polo Jaycees wanted to raise money for a community pool.

Thursday, June 14, officially fired up the rides at 5 p.m., along with merchandise bingo, the beloved dunk tank, and the Little Miss & Mr. Contest.

Three girls and seven boys lined up to represent Polo, but in the end, Little Miss Annalise Knutson, 4, and Little Mr. Sebastian Dewey, 6, were crowned.

Shortly thereafter, visitors purchased bidding paddles and took their seats as “Quartermania” got in full swing, where vendors offer some of their quality wares for just a quarter or two.

Finally, the Thursday events finished off with everyone’s favorite, the fireworks show at PCHS football field.

The Polo Cheerleaders sold snacks and drinks at the concession stand, for those who needed a nibble during their show.

“Kidz Day” filled the slot for June 15, offering $20 arm bands for kids, as well as a fun fair under the festival tent, a petting zoo, and a feeding frenzy in the form of Jell-O and spaghetti-eating contests, and an Oreo stacking competition.

The competitions returned last year for the first time after a several-year hiatus, when Joey Kochsmeier wanted to see the fond memories he remembered as a kid come back.

The fun under the tent was operated by 20 members of the Polo cheer squad, and cheer coach Betsy Scott said the girls love helping out and interacting with the kids, especially when they recognize ones they’ve worked with months prior.

“We hold the mini cheerleaders camp in January, and so they also love seeing the girls again a few months down the road,” said Scott. “We recognize them immediately, they recognize us, and it’s so much fun to bond over that.”

While the event is for the kids, some parents get just as much enjoyment simply seeing their children enjoying themselves.

“My favorite part of Town & Country Days is seeing the smile on Summer’s face,” said Tina Schubert, referring to her daughter. “As a mom, it is great to have a fun family activity to enjoy together, and to see how much Summer’s grown from year to year looking at the pictures.”

“Kidz Day” ended at 5 p.m., effectively turning into “Adultz Night” as PCHS alumni gathered in the beer garden for the remainder of the day.

The Aplington Parent Organization also hosted a 5k at 6 p.m., letting the sun do down a bit before engaging in the run.

Those with a taste for history also could enjoy guided tours at the Polo Aplington House and Polo Historical Society on Thursday and Friday.

Saturday proved not just to be the most jam-packed day, but possibly the hottest as well.

After a free community breakfast at Crossroads Community Church, the day splintered into a Car Show in the Crossroads parking lot, water fights in front of the Polo Fire Department, and a bags tournament with a $100 prize at the corner of Mason and Jefferson.

An 11-team volleyball tournament also took place throughout most of the day, proving the heat wasn’t enough to snuff out the competitive spirit.

The high school volleyball team operated the tournament for the first time this year, with head coach Rhiannon Coffey

“It’s a lot of fun, we’re seeing all levels of play, and we’re all just having a good time - even on the hot day it is,” said Coffey. “I think this is a great opportunity, and hopefully we can get the word out more in the next few years, get more teams, and continue to grow.”

In the festival tent, Polo Area Community Theatre hosted its first Talent Show, where six acts competed for a $50 first prize, a second prize of four tickets to PACT shows, and a third place of two show tickets.

However, due to the caliber of performances, the team of Mady Russel and Luke Miller, known as “Only One Can Play” and performing “Sweet Home Alabama,” split the grand and second place prizes with Samantha Butts, a solo singer performing a version of “Why Don’t You Do Right?” from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

The judging panel, which consisted of Mayor Doug Knapp, T&C Days Coordinator Kim Miller, and Polo Library Director Ellen Finfrock, tied the two acts for first place.

The audience was asked to vote with their cheers to break the tie, they tied again, instead.

With this being the first official year hosting a talent show instead of a variety show, PACT founder and artistic director Kristin Dubois said the big hope is to grow the show in the coming years.

“We would have liked to have some more acts, and unfortunately the heat kept some people away, but we’d like to see some more people get involved with different talents,” said DuBois.

Twi-light bingo, Lyle Grobe and the Rhythm Ramblers, and Route 38 rounded out the sweltering Saturday.

Last year’s T&C Days saw a torrential downpour on Saturday, so the heat may have been preferential to the rides getting shut down.

The event concluded Sunday, beginning the with Father’s Day Grand Parade, and finishing with the 50-50 raffle drawing, pedal tractor races in the festival tent, and the pig scramble right afterward.

A ton of events get packed into four days, and that’s why committee member Stephanie Kuzlik says they’re always looking for volunteers.

“I know the committee is always looking for more people to help, because it seems it is always the same group of people doing most of the work,” Kuzlik said. “If you love Town & Country Days like I do, think about joining the committee.”

However, in the face of the heat, and all of that work, Kuzlik said the community loves it.

“Most people are very appreciative of the work that goes into [T&C days], and that is what makes the long days and hard work worth it,” said Kuzlik. “It wouldn’t happen without the community stepping up and helping the few people on the planning committee.”

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