Festival celebrates Shawnee’s past, embraces the technology of today

Here are some details about this week’s Old Shawnee Days.

• The festival is 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday with a carnival and concert only; 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, with a parade at 10 a.m.; and 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
• Old Shawnee Days will be at Shawnee Town, 11600 Johnson Drive, Shawnee.
• No admission is charged to gain entry to the festival. All concerts and entertainment are free of charge. Seating is not provided. You are welcome to bring a lawn chair or blanket. Coolers or alcoholic beverages are not permitted.
• Costs may include food, drink, crafts and carnival rides.

? The “old” in Old Shawnee Days is starting to look a little out of place.

The 41st annual festival still celebrates the life of Shawnee residents back in the town’s earliest days, but the Old Shawnee Days Society is ensuring the weekend-long event’s activities are being promoted in the newest of ways.

Anyone who has been to Old Shawnee Days in the past also will notice a few other new events and activities at this year’s festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday at Shawnee Town.

The festival has long had a Web site, oldshawneedays.org, and last year it added a MySpace page. This year it has branched out to Facebook and Twitter.

During the festival, live updates will be posted on Facebook and Twitter about the weather, main stage concerts and special events, with a live look at some of the events as they happen.

Those who have been using the Twitter site have organized a “tweet-up” for Saturday’s Night Ranger concert, and the society also will use its social media sites to have a contest to win a meet-and-greet with the band, popular in the 1980s for hits such as “Sister Christian.”

Any potential festival visitors with questions can post them through the Facebook or Twitter sites and get a quick response.

“By being able to personalize the information we send out for specific concerns, we’ll be able to reach people and spur them to come out,” said Donna Sawyer, chairwoman of the Old Shawnee Days Society. “We can tailor our answers specifically to what people want to know, because it’s impossible to put all the information about Old Shawnee Days in any one place.”

An event that is new to this Old Shawnee Days: a pie-baking contest will replace the long-running Better Baby Contest.

“We decided this year we wanted to plan an event that a wider range of people could participate in,” Sawyer said.

A petting zoo for children will be another new feature of the festival, though the Wild West Show will not return this year.

Friday night has become tribute night on the main stage, with tribute bands for Bob Seger, Heart and Lynyrd Skynyrd taking the stage. Two bluegrass bands will finish out the festival on Sunday.

“It’s a great fit for Old Shawnee Days; it’s a very relaxing, mellow way to conclude the event,” Sawyer said.

And the Lumberjills, who were at the festival in 2004, have returned as the special entertainment act, performing several shows each day of the festival.

Sawyer said there definitely would be some new faces all around Shawnee Town during the festival because the society has had huge interest in booth space this year.

“We are beyond full; we’ve had a waiting list for quite some time,” she said. “We’ve got some booths that we’ve never had before. It’s amazing, just calls and calls and calls. We’re a hot commodity.”