Woodburn residents are gearing up for a big 150th anniversary party to celebrate their proud heritage. It starts June 12 with Summer Fest and continues with events throughout the year.
Woodburn wasn’t always Woodburn. In fact, when the town was first platted by Joseph Edgerton and Joseph Smith in 1865, the area was known as Phelps Station, primarily because of the train depot. The two founders chose the site because of the abundant timber, fertile ground and proximity to the Maumee River.
In September of that year, the town was platted again and officially named Woodburn because of all the forest being burned to clear land for farming. Thirty years later, it was given its third name — Shirley City, in honor of Robert. B. Shirley of Maumee Township, who served as a state representative and state senator before his death in 1930. It remained Shirley City until 1956, when it went back to being Woodburn.
Woodburn Historical Society will present a display of old photos, documents and artifacts from the town’s early days. The organization, which is in the process of updating Woodburn’s history book, is sponsoring a period-dress competition. Participants can choose to represent any era during the past 150 years.
The Woodburn High School Alumni Steering Committee is inviting Woodburn High School graduates for an all-class reunion.
“Focus of this year’s annual Summer Fest, of course,” says Woodburn Community Association President Gary Messman, “is the 150th anniversary celebration of our city. We used to have a three-day-long event called Woodburn Days, but it died out 15 years ago. In 2009, a group of dedicated people organized the first Woodburn Day in the Park, which was well received. That has grown and evolved into what is known today as Woodburn Summer Fest. We hope people from throughout the county will come and help us celebrate,” he added.
A wide variety of activities for all ages has been scheduled. June 12’s featured event will be a trivia contest at 7 p.m. with teams competing for cash prizes. Registration is $100 per team. The prize for first place is $200 and second is $100.
Most of the events will be in Woodburn Community Park on Overmeyer Street starting June 13 with Lions Club donuts at 7 a.m. followed by a 5K walk/run and the wooden-bat tournament for kids. A parade is at 10 a.m. on Main Street. Food tents open at 11 a.m. Prince and princess crowning is at 11:30 a.m., and the New Haven Community Band will present a concert at noon. Other activities include pony rides, cookie stacking, a cornhole tournament, pizza and pie eating competitions, a scavenger hunt, and carriage rides. More than 100 classic, antique and vintage cars will be on display from 1 to 4 p.m.
Other entertainment includes Andrew J. Booth and friends at 1:30 p.m., local church choirs at 4 p.m., Bing Futch dulcimer concert at 6 p.m., and Terry Lee and the Rockboogie Band at 7:30 p.m. Summer Fest will conclude with fireworks.
“Summer Fest is just the first step in our yearlong celebration of the 150th,” says Woodburn Mayor Richard Hoeppner. “Several other events right up through the end of the year will be closely aligned to our anniversary. The third annual Front Street Drags on Aug. 8 will feature all kinds of motorized vehicles from golf carts to lawn mowers. Next, Woodburn Partnership for Downtown Revitalization will sponsor Dinner on Main Street on Aug. 29 to mark the completion of the revitalization project that includes a new streetscape of lamp poles, sidewalks, planter boxes and the Indiana Department of Transportation’s street repaving. Tables will be set up right in the middle of the street for all ticket holders. The annual Lions Club Halloween celebration and trick-or-treat night Oct. 30 and the holiday Parade of Lights will also be tied into the 150th anniversary.
“In addition to all those fun events, Woodburn has a lot of good things going on that have positively affected our economy and have given us reason to believe this community has a very bright future. For instance, North American Cold Storage in the Woodburn Industrial Park at the north edge of the city completed construction of their new plant in January of this year and is in the process of adding a 36,100-square-foot expansion. Also in the industrial park, on April 24, Ramco Metal Roofing and Siding held a ribbon-cutting and grand opening. The very next day, Midwest Tile and Concrete Products celebrated the grand opening of its brand-new production facility.
“A lot has happened since the opening of the Fort to Port (U.S. 24 connection of Fort Wayne and Toledo, Ohio). Love’s Truck Stop opened a restaurant, store and gas station May 7 at the intersection of (Indiana) 101 and U.S. 24; Robinson’s Wrecker Service has purchased land and is planning to construct a facility this summer; Hill’s Meat Market is coming to our downtown; we have a new K-6 elementary school at Woodlan; a new Milan Township fire station is being built; and Maumee Township has acquired land for a new township park with athletic fields and a walking track.
“Woodburn is a city that offers a very comfortable and desirable quality of life.”