Monroe is turning 200 and celebrating the milestone with a star-studded weekend festival with country stars and fireworks.
The bicentennial celebration will take place Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23 at Monroe Community Park with a headlining concert by Jo Dee Messina and a fireworks finale.
Hours for the weekend’s events are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s so exciting to be celebrating 200 years,” said Angela Wasson, clerk of council. “I know myself, the committee and all of the volunteers are so honored to be a part of this… It will be something that people will talk about for many years to come.”
WHAT TO EXPECT
Both days of the bicentennial celebration will include live music and entertainment.
On Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. there will be music from Fresh Funk, a Cincinnati-based band that covers classic Motown, funk and soul. The Cincinnati Circus Company will provide circus-style entertainment throughout the night.
Sponsored by Deceuninck, the festivities on Saturday will feature live musical entertainment from national acts Messina, Little Texas and Darryl Worley beginning at 5 p.m. Entertainers from The Cincinnati Circus Company will also perform Saturday as well.
Messina is expected to perform around 8 p.m. A fireworks finale by Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks will begin at 9:40 p.m.
Officials emphasized that Messina will still perform at the event. Many of her fans know she was recently diagnosed with cancer. Her last tour date for the year will be Oct. 7, as she will begin cancer treatment this fall.
The event will also feature carnival rides, a zipline, an archery range, mobile fishing, inflatables, a midway, food trucks, concessions, stilt-walkers, face painting, balloon artists, craft booths and more. The Lions Club will host a beer garden both days.
The Historical Society will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday during the event, and there will be bus tours of historic spots in Monroe. The city’s historic cabin will also be open with various demonstrations, such as making apple butter.
A hard-bound bicentennial book will be for sale for $20. Commemorative bicentennial coins will be available.
WHAT IT MEANS TO THE COMMUNITY
“I think it’s going to be a nice 200th birthday, and I think people from Monroe and surrounding areas will enjoy it a lot. Hopefully, a lot of people will come out,” said Councilman Todd Hickman.
He said the small bicentennial committee has done a lot of work for what many have said is the biggest event the city has ever undertaken.
City Manager Bill Brock said the planning committee has worked hard to bring in national acts and other activities for the largest event planned for the city.
Kristie McElfresh, a local realtor and president of the Monroe Historical Society, said the historical society wants to capture this moment in time for future generations as it also celebrates the 50th anniversary of its own founding.
“We’re pretty proud of that and we have a lot of events planned,” McElfresh said. “The fact we’re turning 200 is pretty impressive to me as a historian.”
Monroe was founded in September 1817 after President James Monroe came through the area as part of his northern tour of the states.
McElfresh said other events will be held this fall including:
- The unveiling of a double-edged historical marker at the Historic Society on Sept. 25
- A Ghost Walk at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 – a walking tour at Monroe Community Park to Mound Cemetery with re-enactors portraying the community’s founding fathers
- A bicentennial Month of Giving in November to celebrate 200 years by giving to those in need
- A Christmas tree-lighting ceremony on December 1 at the Monroe City Building.
South Main Street/Cincinnati-Dayton Road will be closed from 4 to 10 p.m. in front of the park during the celebration between Lebanon Street and Carson Road, except for buses. Free shuttles will be available from three different locations – 220 Yankee Road (Monroe High School), 231 Senate Drive and 6000 State Route 63 (Miami Valley Gaming, back lots off Union Road)
There is an area for park and walk at 225 Macready (at the old high school.) No public parking will be available at the City Building or Monroe Community Park.
Staff writer Ed Richter contributed to this report