By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
SHIPSHEWANA — Gray skies couldn’t keep the colors of spring at bay in Shipshewana Saturday afternoon as townsfolk and tourists alike helped usher in the spring tourism season with a raucous Mayfest celebration.
Held annually as a way to help shake the town awake and get it ready for a new season of tourism, this year’s Mayfest featured the theme “The Colors of Spring,” a call for the entire town to come out, mingle, play and soak in the promise of a new, prosperous year to come.
“We do this every year, just invite everybody to come out and have fun,” said Rene Hostetler, marketing director for the Trading Place of America. “There’s no charge for it, the rides and games are free, and it’s just a fun time for families to get together and play.”
And play they did, with everything from pony rides and face painting to lawn tractor races and a big parade helping to keep spirits high throughout the day-long event.
“The tradition of Mayfest goes way back,” Hostetler said of the festival’s history. “It started as kind of a Shipshewana founder’s week, and it just evolved into what we call Mayfest today, which is a celebration of spring and warm weather.”
Whether it’s participating in a pie-eating contest, enjoying great deals at the many local vendors and shops, or just taking a leisurely carriage ride around town, Hostetler sees Mayfest as a representation of all that it means to live and work in Shipshewana.
“You know, Shipshewana is known for kind of the simple life, and people getting together and just being neighbors,” Hostetler said. “So it really is a wonderful event that we do every year, and it just gives people something to do that’s good, clean fun.”
Shipshewana resident Elizabeth Rogers couldn’t agree more.
“Oh it’s amazing. We love it,” Rogers said of the event during a break from cheering on her son, Braden, at a nearby pie-eating contest. “We’ve only lived here for two years, so this is our second Mayfest. It really brings the community together, and just gives people a reason to get out, have fun and really enjoy the arrival of spring.”