Dengler Domain: Winding Stairs Festival Report

In case you live under a rock, the Winding Stairs Festival was this past weekend. It was wonderful. Seeing the community come together to celebrate Traer and more importantly, the 150th celebration was great. It is fun to see Second Street explode with current, former, and new community members for a couple of nights.

After arriving on Saturday afternoon, the festival was hot with no clouds in the sky as the sun beamed down. After sunset, the clear skies stayed to set up a perfect night. Festival goers packed the bingo tent to win a few extra dollars, and luck was on my side as I won bingo for the first time in what has felt like at least 10 years. After the win, I took my winnings and left. The money will be well spent later on food and drinks.

A few random sights and sounds. As the dueling pianos roared, old friends and family caught up with old friends. The sounds of the amusement rides clanked while kids ran amok throughout the amusement section. This happened while high school boys and girls intermingled after a long summer not being together though not the same with everyone having a smartphone. This all brought back fond memories of my time in those positions.

From young to old, the alumni banquet was full of former Traer, Clutier, Dinsdale, and Buckingham students who passed through the hallowed halls of the school in Traer. Classmates caught up with each other with the most senior class of five former students being 1958. A fun reception full of laughter and talking about what’s new shared over a meal. An event worth having and valuable at connecting the older generations to the younger generations of North Tama alumni. Many thanks to Ellen Young for years of hard work putting on this event and to Carri Holst for taking the lead the last couple of years.

The headlining band was Sushi Roll out of Chicago. Their long set was fun to listen to and people packed the front of the stage to enjoy music spanning several decades. The outfit changes after intermissions, their music blasted throughout the downtown until midnight while noble volunteers handed out beers to all the thirsty music enjoyers.

My nightcap was at the Junkyard Bar. Fortunately, my group found a table before the doorway flowed with the festival goers looking for one last libation before they journeyed home. The loud talking, music blasting, and sports on the television; everyone, young or old, was enjoying their night as the end of the Winding Stairs Festival came to a close for another year.

To those on the Winding Stairs Festival and Sesquicentennial committees, your work does not go unappreciated. An event like this takes a lot of manpower and motivation from able-bodied volunteers. Seeing where the festival has been and where it is going has been impressive. This festival and celebrating Traer’s 150th celebration is vital to maintaining a strong community. To those who serve on these committees, past and present, you should be proud. You have done right by Traer for all those who came before and all those who will come after, so thank you. See you next year.

Sean Dengler is a writer, comedian, farmer, and host of the Pandaring Talk podcast who grew up on a farm between Traer and Dysart. You can reach him at sean.h.dengler@gmail.com.