History of the Tipp City Mum Festival

It might well have been a “Tomato Festival.”  At least, that was a suggestion when the Tipp City newly-formed Chamber of Commerce was looking for some sort of symbol to represent the city.  Somehow, the scarlet fruit of the many green acres that the Timmers grew did not readily lend itself to “arrangement” or widespread ornamentation.

Chamber president Dick Stiles took up the suggestion of Otto Frings, who had just returned with his wife Isabel, from their first view of the Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan.  His suggestion was “if Holland can have a festival honoring the tulip, why not a mum (chrysanthemum) festival in Tipp City?”

It was true that Spring Hill Nurseries was growing, selling, and shipping this particular horticultural product of theirs – the garden chrysanthemum – at such a rate that it was easy, not much later, for Tipp City to adopt the name, “Mum Capital of the World.”

Frings’ suggestion was adopted and he found himself in 1957 appointed to head a planning committee.  The original decision, after Isabel and Otto Frings visited other festivals, was made by Isabel, who became the next Chamber president.  This called, after many meetings, for a festival to be held in 1958, probably in October.

Despite many meetings later and gradually ironing out some of the snags, it was decided to postpone the first such event until 1959.  This was under the direction of John Benham and Tom Kyle Jr. as co-chairmen.

“Mum’s the Word on October 3rd” read six-foot letters on the water tower in midtown that fall.  It is said that the “largest crowd ever assembled in Tipp City” (up to that time) came to see the first parade, which had nine bands and 61 antique cars.  Each band nominated candidates for queen, with Janet Treon of Miami East being the first queen chosen.  She was crowned on the steps of the Monroe Township Building at Third and Main Streets.

The gradual evolution of queen nomination would take a whole story, in itself, to the present day.  Candidates go through a two-day process leading up to the Queen’s Pageant.

The queen rides with her court, all beautifully gowned on a special float, a feature added in 1960, the first year the float appeared.  Every year since, with the exception of 1969, the queen and her court have ridden on their float — sometimes with rain gear hiding their beautiful gowns.

In 1969, Tipp City High School’s first queen, Ann Rousculp Lorms, had to peer out from a closed car, the rain was so heavy.  John and Joe Patten (“the designing twins”) created the first queen’s float.

“Mums and Music,” as a float theme, established another first in 1962.  This was also the year that incorporation became necessary as the festival grew beyond the parade, Main Street flower show, and decorations of potted mums.

Dr. William Gabel became the first president and gradually through the years by-laws have been established, with two major revisions made in them, which still regulate the way in which the organization — officers, responsibilities, committee heads, meetings, and other details are handled.

This year there are committees that oversee activities from the Queen’s Pageant, the parade, the Run for the Mums, increased emphasis on children’s activities, a larger entertainment program, the Friday night activities, including Little Miss and Mr. Mum competition, continually expanding arts and crafts show, plus food concessions and a Motorcycle Ride.

To continue some early history, when Dick Breckett was president in 1963, the overall theme was established for the parade and flower show (the latter is no more).  A “Home Beautification” traveling trophy, donated by A.O. Smith (now Regal Corp.), was established for the best display of mums.  The floats were separated in classifications for judging, and judging of the flower show on Friday evening, instead of Mum Day, was established.

The latter continued through 1973, but no committee was available after that.  However, the increased amount of arts and crafts has replaced this with more emphasis on park activities, as well as establishment of a flea market in 1976 to help fill the void.

The weather was one of the big headaches in the earlier years.  Bill MacLeod gets the credit for describing the date of the “Big Parade” as being “The second rainy Saturday in October.”

The original weekend had been set to coordinate with the annual band competition, which the music department at Tippecanoe High School hosted.

Better weather has prevailed since changing the Mum Festival weekend to September!

Past Presidents, Themes, and Queens

Year Theme President Queen School
1959 Tom Kyle Janet Treon Miami East
1960 Otto Frings Betty Wells Fairborn
1961 Music Through the Ages Joyce Crowell Bradford
1962 Mums and Music Dr. William Gabel Nancy Rehse West Carrollton
1963 Around the World in Color Dick Brockert Katie Marsh Fairborn
1964 Famous Firsts Robert Wagner Wilma Reed Miami East
1965 Our American Heritage Neal Sonnanstine Cynthia Winnie Beavercreek
1966 Mr. President Steve White Margaret Allen Fairmont West
1967 Holidays in Mums Steve White Jacqueline Clawson Miami East
1968 Once Upon a Time Jim Bayliff Cheryl Weaver Versailles
1969 Music Time USA Jim Wilson Ann Rousculp Tipp City
1970 Famous Movies Don Butts Debbie Thomas Miami East
1971 International Holidays Ron Mettert Janet Suber Miami East
1972 Saluting the 50 States Ken Withrow Kin Ulrich Franklin Monroe
1973 Sports Time USA Dale Mullenix Nan Seybold Tipp City
1974 Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow Jack Hapner Neta Louise Cool Newton
1975 Bicentennial – Our Nation’s 200th Birthday Don Heckman Sherry Green Versailles
1976 Festivals USA Florence Mullenix Teresa Borchers Versailles
1977 Landmarks of the World Pat Hinde Lorie Ann Besecker Franklin Monroe
1978 Miami Valley Memories Stan Evans Laura Fleming Tipp City
1979 Children’s Fantasies Jean Rogers Lora Peters Tipp City
1980 Return to the Roaing 20’s Jesse Chamberlain Lisa Traughber Troy
1981 Great Outdoors Marilyn Fennell Candi Coon Tipp City
1982 Famous Movies Sandy Heilman Melanie Glover Bethel
1983 A Touch of Silver – 25 Years Gone By Marilyn Richards Jennifer Tomsen Vandalia
1984 Fall Favorites Gloria Coffield Michelle McCabe Arcanum
1985 Television on Parade Tom Dysinger Jeannette Brehm Franklin Monroe
1986 American Pastimes Rick Mains Mary Gray Greenville
1987 Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness Connie Geel Tammy Biser Tipp City
1988 Mum “Petals” Thru the 50’s Doug Amlin Janel Cloyd Tri-Village
1989 Mardi Gras of Mums Dick Bender Kelly Sultzbach Vandalia
1990 Tipp City: 150 Years Remembered Tom Marzano Kristin Buckles Vandalia
1991 International Celebration of Mums Chuck Deskins Bridgette Marie Ferraro Wayne
1992 Once Upon a Time Kelly Gillis Amelia Sutton Tipp City
1993 Holidays on Parade Kelly Gillis Tammy Roe Wayne
1994 Fantasies on Parade Carol Farron Deborah Elson Vandalia
1995 Bloomin’ with Country Will Roberts Ami Busic Tipp City
1996 Proud to be American George Lovett Marilyn Tebbe Bethel
1997 Experience Mum Magic Pat Hale Paige Prince Tipp City
1998 Rock Around the Clock Tom Davidson Kariann Michalski Tipp City
1999 Just Having Fun Brian & Shelley Tebbe Kristyn Sliver Vandalia
2000 Mums Under the Big Top Pamela Hale & Will Roberts Emily Reeves Tipp City
2001 Mums Under the Sun Bob Freeman Sarah Simmons Vandalia
2002 America Blooms in 2002 Brian Stewart Mary Simons Vandalia
2003 Mums are Us Jill Barhorst Tiffany Dykstra Vandalia
2004 Peace, Love & Mums Pam Fischer Brittany Tindall Vandalia
2005 Mums on Fire Carol English Lauren Pratt Vandalia
2006 Saluting our Veterans Nick Anderson Lauren Vallo Vandalia
2007 Mums About Sports Nick Anderson Lori Bishop Vandalia
2008 Celebrating 50 Years of Family, Friends & Community Will Roberts Cassie Denniston Tipp City
2009 We Love our Mums Amber Corkhill Catherine Barrow Northmont
2010 Mum’s the Word! Kate Taylor Charlie Kleptz Northmont
2011 Cruise-In to the Tipp City Mum Festival Jim Fry Alexa Lammers Tipp City
2012 Vintage Mums …. Long Live the 50’s Mary Thomas Hailey Winblad Tipp City
2013 How the West Was Mum’D Ashley Helmer Margo Shininger Tipp City
2014 All Aboard with the Mums Russ Thayer Taylor Merrick Tipp City
2015 Toadally Crazy about Mums Michelle Ireton Lydia Etchison Tipp City
2016 Revving up the Mums Corey Rismiller Rachel Martin Troy
2017 Honoring our Heroes, Near and Far Dave Bechtol Randi Fraizer Troy
2018 Sixty Years in the Books William House Emily Ringo Tipp City
2019 Mumstock ’19 Mary Thomas
2020 COVID-19
2021 Return of the MUMmy Festival Corey Rismiller