Washington was established and named in June of 1839. Until the advent of the railroad in the late 1850’s, the town’s growth was slow and deliberate. A major influx of citizenry began with the railroad’s presence in town and Washington has grown accordingly. By 1900 the community featured all of the amenities then necessary to a community. By 1939’s 100th celebration a unique community feature was added – a light-cycled water fountain in the center of the downtown’s Central Park. That has been the community’s focus ever since. 1974’s 125th event focused on the people of the community. The 1989 event added the Sesquicentennial Park, comprised of walking trails within a Prairie Grass Park and next to a longtime hiking attraction, Hayes Timber.
The 2014 event focuses on the changes in lifestyle of the past 25 years. Athletic individual events are prominent in this year’s schedules, as well as historic displays. Artistic events include an all day “Sketch the Square,” as well as quilt block making, children’s hands-on art events, a variety of music offerings, and acknowledgment of our agricultural roots featuring a 175-tractor parade on Thursday, June 5 beginning at 4 p.m. Health and fitness will be focused on with family games and swimming.
A throwback-uniform baseball game, with both teams wearing 1972 vintage uniforms happens June 6; an alumni football game featuring Washington playing Mt. Pleasant, our major rival, happens at 6 p.m. June 7. All players will be high school graduates up to roughly age 50. The alumni musicians will perform both concert and jazz band concerts Sunday afternoon, followed by an alumni reception, with music, after the concerts in Central Park. The musicians playing include WHS graduates from 1950 to 2014, a 64-year span.
Saturday’s events focus on a Washington original – Ridiculous Day dating back to the late 1940’s-early 50’s with the usual sales and zaniness associated with that event. The parade begins at 2:00 p.m., followed by the Bill Riley Talent Show at 3:00. Other events will occur in Central Park, including a number of instrumental group performances which lead into the appearances at 8:15 p.m. by Midnight Special – The Classic Rock Experience and at 10:30 p.m. by Rubix Cube – the Ultimate 80’s Tribute Band, both appearing in the beer garden.