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Any good candy in there?

Community event celebrates supporting local veterans
Emily Baker, spectator at the Swisher Fun Days parade Saturday, Aug. 1, gets a nosey visitor. A goat that was led through the parade stopped to see if Emily had gathered anything munchable in her goodie bag as she collected candy at the parade. (photo by Lori Lindner)MORE PHOTOS

SWISHER– With kids’ games and a vendor fair, a horseshoe tournament and cow chip bingo, and especially a weekend full of free live music, Swisher Fun Days truly is a fun way to support veterans.
The 2014 Swisher Fun Days weekend was held Aug. 1 and 2 in the small town of 879 people. It’s been a community tradition for so long, even organizers have a hard time pinning down the number of years the free event has taken place.
“I do know it has been at least 28 years,” said parade organizer Gary Palas.
Palas said the organizing committee wanted to shake things up a bit with this year’s theme, “Summer Fun and Music.”
“Swisher Fun Days, sponsored by the American Legion Post 671 in Swisher, traditionally had a patriotic theme, but since patriotism has become popular again there are so many (other) commercial (entities) and organizations out there asking for donations to do the same things the American Legion has been doing since 1919,” Palas said. “We wanted a theme that let everyone know supporting veterans, their families and wounded veterans can have some fun associated with it.”
The parade is the opening of a day of children’s games and bingo sponsored by the Legion’s Junior Auxiliary. The day includes a vendor fair of work by local artisans, food, exhibits by high school cheer teams and an auction of goods and veteran-made items donated by businesses and other local folks. Each evening culminates with a live music concert; this year by country band 8 Seconds; Sheltered Reality (a youth drum corp); the Purdy River Band, and popular rock favorite, Two Buck Chuck.
The parade was held Saturday morning, with everyone in the surrounding area invited to participate. Floats, vintage cars and tractors, school groups, local businesses, area fire department vehicles and even a few live animals show up each year to march down Swisher’s main drag, while hundreds of kids scramble for tossed candy.
All of the proceeds from Swisher Fun Days activities are used to support American Legion Veterans programs, which includes all veterans, whether they are members or not, and children and youth programs.
Every dollar donated to American Legion programs is used for veterans’ programming, Palas noted. American Legion membership supports its own administrative costs so none are taken from donations.
“One of the missions of the American Legion family, which is made up of Legion veterans, Ladies Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion, is to be involved in and assist their communities to move forward into the future,” Palas said.