About the Americana Festival
The Americana Fourth of July Festival started in 1972 as a sidewalk sale promoted by the Centerville downtown merchants. As years passed, the merchants association received permission from the City to close the streets for a 4th of July Festival.
In the fall of 1979, a few members of the Board of Directors of the Centerville-Washington Township Chamber of Commerce proposed the formation of a Corporation under the Chamber to enlarge the festival. Their plans included a parade, street fair, auto show, hot air balloon rides, sky divers and fireworks. The proposal was accepted and the Americana Festival Corporation was formed. The corporation's board adopted a $20,000 budget and work on the new and improved festival began immediately.
The stated purpose of the American Festival was to promote the social welfare of the Centerville-Washington Township area by fostering community spirit and neighborly goodwill and encourage the residents of the area to participate in the community activities. Many citizens would be encouraged to remain off the highways on this holiday weekend, a time of increased auto traffic congestion and accidents.
In 1984, the Kiwanis Club of Centerville became involved with the festival by providing the Executive Director and the Parade Chairman that year. The Kiwanis also established the Miss Americana Scholarship Pageant, a preliminary competition for the Miss Ohio and Miss America pageants.
At the request of the Chamber of Commerce, the following year, the Kiwanis Club of Centerville assumed control of the Americana Festival Corporation. The members of the Kiwanis Club were the sole operators of the festival through 1988, except for the family run which was sponsored by the Noon Optimist Club. In an attempt to involve more of the community in the festival's operation in 1988, non-Kiwanians were allowed to become members of the organization and participate in its operation and management.
The festival is funded by significant contributions from both the city and township governments and by cash and in-kind donations from area businesses and institutions. The festival now includes a mile long, 90-minute parade with more than 100 units, a street fair with more than 300 arts and crafts booths, an antique and classic car and truck show which attracts more than 150 vehicles, a special cost-free area just for children at Benham's Grove, a scholarship program, a 5K family run with more than 1,200 runners of all ages and physical abilities participating, entertainment and fireworks.
The City of Centerville, the Washington Township Recreation Center, the Centerville-Washington Park District and the Centerville-Washington Township Historical Society sponsor several additional activities. The festival is preceded the night before with entertainment and fireworks at the Centerville High School football stadium.
More than 75,000 people attend the festival each year, with over 100 volunteers assisting in the activities.