The 44th annual Dennison Railroad Festival kicks off Wednesday

The 44th annual Dennison Railroad Festival kicks off Wednesday
Teri Stein

Brittany Ruth of the Dennison Depot Railroad Museum in the newly reorganized and expanded gift shop at the Dennison Depot Railroad Museum. The museum will be open extended hours for the Railroad Festival.


The 44th annual Dennison Railroad Festival will kick off Wednesday, May 31. One new improvement will help people with mobility issues at the gazebo stage. The cement base recently installed to hold the ice rink in the colder months will help other times of the year too.

“That’s going to be nice,” said Beth DiDonato, a member of the Dennison Railroad Festival Committee, of the groups from a local care center that attend the festival. “When they have brought them in the past, it has always been so hard with the wheelchairs because of the stones that were in there. It’s going to be nice for the Railroad Festival, but it’s going to be nice for the community as a whole and other events they host there.”

The festival will run from May 31 at 5 p.m. when the midway opens to Saturday, June 3 with many activities, food and entertainment.

A few activities have returned for this year including the parade on Saturday at 4 p.m. beginning at Claymont Junior High School in Uhrichsville and ending at the gazebo stage at the festival. The talent show will be back on Thursday at 7 p.m. with Marc Davis of New Philadelphia serving as host. Participants can register up until 6:45 p.m. before the event. Prizes will be awarded to the top three contestants.

There will be plenty of activities for children.

“We have the Kiddie Peddle Pulls on Friday. We also are going to have Tim Angeloni; he’s a magician. He’s going to be a traveling magician. He’ll be wandering the grounds on Friday and Saturday, but he is also going to be doing a stage show at two o’clock on Saturday,” DiDonato said.

The appeal of any good festival is the food, and the Dennison Railroad Festival will have much available.

“We’ll have homemade soft pretzels, waffles, of course DiRusso sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, French fries, corn dogs, deep-fried veggies, lemonade and I believe we’ve got fish again,” DiDonato said.

On Saturday the Dennison Fire Department will host a chicken barbecue, and throughout the festival some downtown restaurants will be open too.

As a fundraiser for the festival, the committee will sell raffle tickets on a new Badboy EZ Avenger riding mower that is zero turn and has a 54-inch cut. Tickets are $20 each or two for $35.

The arts and crafts booths will be at the festival this year too.

Nashville artist Ashley Best, the son of a coal miner, was raised in the small town of Little York, Ohio before his family moved to Cadiz when he was 14. Some of his country music influences are Dwight Yoakam, Buck Owens, Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt. He also is a songwriter. Best will be on the railcar stage on Friday at 7 p.m.

Other musical guests include the Ron Retzer Trio, The Next, (RE)Live the Elvis Experience (Michael Brindley) and John Doe.

The Dennison Railroad Festival queen contest will be held May 31 at the Dennison Depot Streetside Center at 5:30 p.m. The queen will have the opportunity to travel, learn about other communities in the state, meet new friends and gain experience speaking in public as she shares information about the Dennison festival with others.

The contest is open to female students age 15-18 from Claymont High School, an adjoining school district or residing in Tuscarawas County.

No special talents are required to represent the Dennison Railroad Festival. The queen contest consists of a private interview with a panel of three judges and a two- to three-minute speech on stage.

For an application or more information on the queen contest, call Diana Smith at 330-447-6569 or email

The members of the Dennison Railroad Festival Committee are DiDonato, Smith, Michael Brindley, Mary Dunfee, Derek Kohler, John Rypien, Connie Hillyer, Sissy Coen and Tracie Ayers.

The festival schedule is as follows:

—Wednesday, May 31: Midway opens at 5 p.m. and queen contest at Streetside Center at 5:30 p.m.

—Thursday, June 1: Midway opens at 5 p.m., The Next at railcar stage at 7 p.m. and talent show at gazebo stage at 7 p.m.

—Friday, June 2: Midway opens at 4 p.m., registration for kiddie pedal pulls at gazebo stage at 5 p.m., coloring contest winner announced at gazebo stage at 6:30 p.m., The Ron Retzer Trio at gazebo stage at 7 p.m. and Nashville recording artist Ashley Best at railcar stage at 7 p.m.

—Saturday, June 3: Midway opens at noon, car show hosted by Dennison Rotary across from the gazebo stage with registration at 10 a.m. and judging at 12:30 p.m., The Magic of Tim Angeloni at gazebo stage at 2 p.m., New Towne Cloggers at gazebo stage at 3 p.m., parade starts at 4 p.m. beginning at Claymont Junior High and ending at the gazebo stage, visiting queens welcome at gazebo stage at 6 p.m., (RE)Live the Elvis Experience (Michael Brindley) at gazebo stage at 7 p.m., and John Doe at the railcar stage at 7 p.m.

The Dennison Rotary photo contest will have photos on display from May 31 through June 3 in the Dennison Public Library during normal business hours.

The Dennison Depot Railroad Museum also will be open extended hours for the festival.

Volunteers are always needed for a variety of jobs at the festival, and anyone interested can call DiDonato at the Twin City Chamber of Commerce. Visit Dennison Railroad Festival on Facebook for more information.

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