Perhaps nothing is more synonymous with Momence than the annual Gladiolus Festival - a staple of Momence since 1938. The festival was the brainchild of Roy G. Hess who presented the idea at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in 1937. The first festival was held in 1938 and featured a flower show, antique display, floral parade, children's parade, band concert and pageant which are still staples of the event more than 80 years later!
A formal association to organize the festival was established in 1938 and the event continued to grow each year. 1939 saw the addition of a boat pageant on the river, 1940 saw the addition of drum and bugle corps, and 1947 saw the first window-decorating competition. Today it is a 5-day event which features live music and artistic performances, 5K run, carnivals, car shows, flea, craft and antique markets, raffles, tractor pulls, 3 parades, food, drink and so much more! The festival attracts more than 7,500 visitors each year as well as being a center point of class reunions and family gatherings.
Through the years, the festival has received national and international renown. It is commemorated on a collector's whiskey bottle, and in 1983 Ova Parish, in her capacity as festival chairman, was invited to the Netherlands to meet with Queen Beatrix.
2022 Glad Fest Logo
Credit: Momence Gladiolus Festival Association
A complete copy of the original 1938 Glad Fest Brochure is available below courtesy of the Graham Historic House/Nancy Porter
Online Archives of Glad Fest Memorabilia
The Glad Fest website provides historical information including a listing of all of its presidents since 1938
Momence History Museum
PO Box 221, Momence, Illinois 60954, United States
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