Monday, July 26, 2004

Clermont fair salutes military

Parade kicks off festivities

By Reid Forgrave
Enquirer staff writer

OWENSVILLE - About 3,000 people gathered along the streets of Owensville Sunday afternoon to kick off the weeklong Clermont County Fair.

A float honoring the 216th Combat Engineer Battalion, which recently suffered its first casualty in the Iraq war, elicited cheers from the crowd.

Jim Johnston Sr. and Jim Johnston Jr. of Hamersville dismantle a tank float dedicated to the 216th Engineering Battalion after the parade in the Clermont County Fair.
(Enquirer photo/SARAH CONARD)
The battalion has several Clermont County residents and has a post in Felicity.

The most prevalent color at the parade was yellow - no surprise in the home county of captured American soldier Spc. Keith "Matt" Maupin, a Glen Este High grad.

Kids clutched yellow balloons. Magnetic yellow ribbons graced nearly every truck in the parade. A banana-yellow 1974 Volkswagen Beetle flanked the 216th float. The car held names and pictures of four Greater Cincinnati natives serving in the battalion. A sign read, "God bless the 216th."

"My mom's throwing me a party, and it's going on right now, so I got to get going to that," said Spc. David Johnston of Amelia, a member of the 216th who rode on the float while home for a two-week leave. After two hours in the parade, Johnston and Spc. Kelly Foster, also on the float, were anxious to spend time with family members.

The parade was filled with scores of politicians and business owners and emergency vehicles from a dozen police agencies and 25 fire departments.

Local politicians, business owners, gymnastics teams and military support groups threw candy and waved.

"It's a little bit bigger this year since it's a political year," Owensville Fire Department Chief David Knapke said of the county's largest parade of the year.

If you go

The Clermont County fair will be held every day this week through Saturday, from 8 a.m. until midnight, at the county fairgrounds in Owensville. For more information, visit



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