#HomeGrownStories – Dave Bechtol
Dave Bechtol has been part of the annual Tipp City Mum Festival for the past five years. This year the festival is celebrating its 59th year. This year Dave is the co-chairman of the parade, sponsorship chair and the president of the festival. His family moved around a lot when he was growing up as his father served in the Navy. His family settled in West Milton, where he met his wife, Sheryl. After Dave retired from the Navy, the couple moved to Tipp City. Both are involved in putting on the Tipp City Mum Festival.
On his connection to Miami County:
I was a Navy brat. My family settled in West Milton and my wife and I both graduated from West Milton High School. Wright Patterson was my last duty station when I was in the Navy. I retired out of the Navy and started working as a contractor. We built a house in Tipp City and have been here ever since. We’ve been here for almost twenty years.
On the history of the Tipp City Mum Festival:
This is the 59th year of the festival. At first, it was a very small event, mostly just a parade. It started downtown with a couple of booths. I’m not sure of the exact time that we shifted to the park. It’s been a good 20+ years. The park is a nice place to hold the festival. It gives the festival a nice relaxed atmosphere underneath the trees.
Mums are Tipp City’s official flower. For a long time, Spring Hill Nurseries had been growing garden chrysanthemums. The city even adopted the name, “Mum Capital of the World.”
How he became involved with the Tipp City Mum Festival:
I’ve been involved with the Tipp City Mum Festival for the past five years. This will be the fifth year for the parade as well. I multitask as the co-chairman of the parade, sponsorship chair and the president of the festival. We have a small group of people that put this together. It’s amazing what we can do.
I coached select soccer for the longest time. When my son graduated I had nothing else to do until I was asked to help set up for the parade for the Mum Festival. Being an ex-military officer, I like organization, and it was totally disorganized. So after that year, I offered to take over the staging of the parade. I set up a schedule for everybody. I organized the staging area and maintained communication to keep things running smoothly.
On the theme of this year’s festival:
This year I’m president and I have to get all the units for the parade. Each president picks the theme of the festival. In the past eight or so years the theme has dealt with mums, I wanted to do something different. The theme this year is Honoring Our Heroes Near and Far. Because I’m an ex-military officer, I looked at the military. I also wanted to honor local police, firefighters, and EMTs. My wife, Sheryl, helped me come up with the name for the theme. We wanted to include everyone that helps and protects our communities.
We’re hoping to have some military units and WWII vehicles in the parade and at the festival. The Military Order of the Purple Heart will be at the festival. That’s special to me. They are individuals who have given more than service to their country. They will be the Grand Marshals of the parade and have a float. We’re hoping to have some antique police cars and fire engines. We’re asking local police and fire departments to join us for the parade as well. My goal is to make this the biggest parade we’ve ever had in town. We were close to it last year. We will use the speaker system so people can hear the announcer throughout the downtown area. We have about four bands that will march in the parade. It’ll be a fun event along with the festival.
The events in Tipp City related to and leading up to the Mum Festival:
Starting on September 10th, we’re going to paint the town. The Boy Scouts will paint mums downtown for us. They get about 40% of the profits for their group. Then we have breakfast in town and get the motorcycle ride started. The cost of joining the ride is a donation to the Tipp City Needy Basket. We collect anywhere from about $1300-$3000 depending on the number of riders. We have raffles and special giveaways. Food Town donates the food for the breakfast. We set up at 3G Tactical and they cook the food for us. Last year we had about 87 motorcycles.
The Friday night before the festival, September 22, is the car show. We stage from 4 pm to 6 pm and the event goes from 6 pm to 10 pm. There will be over 800 cars; last year we had 830 cars. It’s the largest festival car show in the state of Ohio. We park them downtown on the street and on side streets. We put them sideways instead of parking parallel with the curb so we can pack them in close. A lot of people come for this event – the downtown area is packed!
Saturday morning, September 23, we start out with a 5k run at the stadium at 8 am. We had over 500 people last year. Meijer donates money, food, and water for the event and Abbott gives a lot of their time. They bring employees to set up the registration tables. Lots of other businesses support the event as well. The food and water that is leftover goes to the bands as they come through.
The staging for the parade starts at 7:30 in the morning. The parade kicks off at 10 o’clock. Last year we had 106 units in the parade. The parade ends at the park so people follow the parade to start the festival. We’ll have 8,000 people in the park at that point. Entertainment starts at noon on Saturday.
The ladies who set up our arts and crafts have done a phenomenal job this year. My wife, Sheryl, and Michelle Cook are in charge of the Arts & Crafts and the Merchant’s Mart committees. Over 50% of the vendors signed up during the festival last year for 2017, which is phenomenal. This is the first year that we will have crafters coming from Michigan, New York, and Indiana. There are 125 handmade arts and crafts booths. There will be 100 commercial merchants like Tupperware, Longaberger and Scentsy. It’s going to be the biggest festival we’ve ever had in the park! We have space set up for downtown shops in the pavilion in the park. That’s new for this year.
On the community response to the festival:
We have a lot of community support for the festival. Our police department is wonderful. They support us 110% with officers being available to help during the car show and the festival. We have help from our parks department. It’s wonderful to see how the community comes together. We have a meeting in the middle of August with the police department and the city. We coordinate everything that needs to happen on the day and away we go.
What he loves most about Miami County:
I love that Miami County is a small community with a big city, Dayton, close by. I like the small towns. I grew up in a small town and most of the bases my dad was on were in small towns. It’s perfect. We retired and moved to Tipp City and absolutely love it. It’s home. I’ve coached all the sports that my son did and coach now even though he’s grown. It feels good to volunteer and be a part of the community.
The canal walk is wonderful for a bike ride. The square in Troy is a great place to walk. I grew up with the Strawberry Festival and I helped with the soccer tournaments for years.
Follow our storyteller and interviewer, Courtney Denning, at ThisOhioLife.com.