AO Festival does well despite high temperatures


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — The weekend may have started out as a scorcher, but the rains that came through early Saturday morning cooled things down enough to provide a couple of incredible days to get out and experience the annual Annie Oakley Festival at the Darke County Fairgrounds.

Although the festival didn’t officially start until Friday, activities were taking place throughout the week to determine who would represent the festival over the weekend and throughout the year. The Little Miss Annie Oakley and Little Mister Buffalo Bill was determined on the Wednesday prior to the event with Tesla Buccella and Sullivan Cover taking the titles. Brooklyn Dillman earned the coveted Miss Annie Oakley title the following night by hitting the balloon target with a BB gun from a distance of 105-feet.

Hundreds of people lined the parade route on Saturday morning to watch the nearly hour-long parade that thrilled parade watchers with floats and entries from around the county and beyond.

From the popular Cowboy Mounted Shooting and National Fast Draw competitions to the Darke County Civic Theater’s annual melodrama presentation, the Annie Oakley Festival had something for everyone. Men and women 18 and older had a chance to compete in Annie’s Memorial Shoot to see if they could compete with distance this year’s Miss Annie Oakley put up. There were also K9 demonstrations, historical bus tours, American Western Arts Showcase, small dog races and costume contest, car show and musical entertainment throughout the weekend.

JoEllen Melling, president of the Annie Oakley Festival, said, “After the parade it always gets busy out here (fairgrounds).” By late afternoon on Saturday the crowds started to dissipate, but she attributed that to temperatures still in the mid-80s. “I think it was just people were so hot, it was time to go home,” she said. The festival did see an increase in attendance on Sunday and she believes that is because of the event they were holding, such as the Cowboy Mounted Shooting, dog races and car show. “I’m happy. I’ve talked to different vendors. The vendors are doing good. As long as everybody else is happy, I’m happy,” she added.

When asked what her favorite part of the festival is, Melling had a one-word answer, “People.” She said she will drive her golf cart or walk down the midways and talk to the people at the festival.

With one of the youngest Miss Annie Oakley to ever represent the festival, Melling said Dillman was doing great this year. Dillman is 13 and has been practicing for two years to earn the title. Dillman said her favorite part of the festival has been putting smiles on the faces of little kids. Dillman discovered the historical bus tour this year and learned a little more about the legendary sharpshooter and is hoping she can emulate Annie Oakley in more ways than just shooting. “She taught other girls to be confident and shoot and I want to be like that,” she said.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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