NEW LONDON - Roger Harner was the man of the hour at the 99th annual Firelands Labor Day Festival in New London this weekend.
Not only was he the grand master of Saturday's Rotary-sponsored parade, but he also pushed the plunger that set off the 99,000 firecrackers Monday night before the fireworks display.
Harner, a 1954 graduate of New London High School, was honored for organizing the parade for 33 years and for his 50 years as a volunteer with the fire department, where he now serves as assistant fire chief.
The parade that Harner led featured bands, festival queens, horses, cars, fire trucks and floats with this year's theme of "New London the friendliest spot in Ohio."
The Hartland Center Church float won the Bob Hardy Memorial Trophy for best overall group, as well as best youth group. Pure Country Dancers and the Berlin Heights Basket Festival Queen and Court also came in first in their categories.
The newest event of the festival was the greased pig contest, that took place with the help of a pig from the Andy and Shelley Suvar farm. Winners were Raymond Goostree, Brad Henderson and Tanner Green.
In other events, Brandon Lang placed first for men and Colby Asmus for women in the 5-K run, and Allen Hale Jr., Kent Marsh and Allison Fleming were the top three winners in the always popular pie eating contest sponsored by LifeBanc and run by Clyde Hotchkiss.
Melissa Brinker's chili was judged best of the 12 entries, and there were 250 entries in the flower show. Susan Cutting's arrangement won best of show, Rylee Haswell won best of junior show, Diana Deppen won best of farmer's harvest, Joyce Tulk won best rose and Joan Hillenbrand won best horticultural display.
Other exhibitors included the New London Area Historical Society, Safety Awareness in Huron County, Firelands Ambulance Service, the New London Community Club, the New London Quilt Guild, Klingman's Taxidermy, S & S Farms Heating and Repair and A J's Hematite.
As usual, the high point of the weekend was Terry Granneman's fireworks display, and this year it was preceded by the 99,000 firecrackers in honor of the 99th year of the festival.
Granneman already is working with the village to make the 100th festival fireworks the best ever, and a fund-raising drive has already begun to help defray the cost of next year's extravaganza.