Can’t Keep Mum; Tipp City’s Annual Mum Festival Keeps Blooming

Each fall since 1959, Tipp City, Ohio has hosted the Tipp City Mum Festival downtown. The idea came from a local who had been inspired by Holland’s Tulip Festival, and thought Tipp City should create its own festival to celebrate its world-renowned mums. 

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Tipp City had already earned its title of “Mum Capital of the World,” one of many claims to fame by then, since Spring Hill Nurseries had been shipping its homegrown mums to gardeners all over the globe.

The company was started in 1849 by a Bavarian immigrant who moved his nursery to Tipp City in 1889, renaming it for a distinct hill nearby.

After decades of selling locally, the company focus shifted to mail order catalog sales, and primarily functioned as such since the 1930s. Now, Spring Hill sells its mums and hundreds of other plants online. 

243007198_339883421247771_6592542868983344328_nOriginally the Tipp City Mum Festival was held in October, but after several consecutive years of predictable downpours, the committee agreed to host it in September instead.

Friday night is the kick-off, with the annual Antique & Show Car Cruise-In. 

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This Cruise-In has been ongoing for nearly thirty years, and is the largest festival car show in the entire state of Ohio. 

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Main Street and nearby blocks are lined with hot rods, customs, and other vintage rides, and loads of people walking around with their DORA cups.

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Tipp City’s DORA (Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area) is a designated open-container space where you can pick up a cup inside a local establishment and enjoy your drink anywhere within DORA parameters.

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Not quite as liberated as Bourbon Street, but I do not know of any other cities, or any big cities, that allow open containers across this much of the downtown area on an ongoing basis. 

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Run for the Mums is held on the following Saturday morning, starting in City Park, and ends in time for the Mum Festival Parade along Main Street. 

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The parade starts with the raising of the flag. I know this because we were chilling on the sidewalk when the police and a bunch of other officials rushed up in front of us.

Next, the town pledged allegiance with their hands over their hearts in otherwise silence. 

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Soon after, the floats and city officers came through. I learned more about Tipp City through inadvertently eavesdropping on some conversations going on next to us, and with my dad’s endless knowledge and memory of his life here. 

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I was born in Dayton but spent my first few years of life in Tipp City. My parents met, worked in local businesses, fell in love, and bought their first home here. My dad’s parents married and moved here from Springfield to start a new life before that. 

When my family moved away from Ohio, I always felt there was something in Tipp City that I wanted to go back and learn about, so this family trip was really special.

I had been expecting a dusty Mayberry town with nothing to see, and instead was impressed by how broad and clean the streets were, how lively everything was, and the countless artisan markets and unique businesses around town. 

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Lots of nostalgia and the usual staples of a parade were present, of course.

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Local high school marching bands and colour guards whirled between vintage official cars and elegant black Percherons. 

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Being so close to Halloween, one of the bands played their rendition of the Addams Family theme song while in costumes. Here’s my song for this entry:

We watched an adorable little chunk of a dog excitedly do skateboard tricks and beg his dad to let him join the parade. When he finally got his turn, he stole the show. 

242933110_339879944581452_4303535364449413744_nAfter the parade, we made our way to Tipp City park near Third and Parkwood. 

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There were nearly 300 booths of locally grown produce, food vendors, handmade home decor and attire, fall and holiday supplies and gifts, and eclectic flea market items. 

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I bought this black and white birdhouse made by Ingenium Woodworks and it fits perfectly in my herb garden at home. 

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Most small towns have a localized version of a Homecoming, Fall Harvest Festival, or some other seasonally celebratory event, and Tipp City is no exception. 

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It is wild to think that it has been going on since some time in the last century, when most popular events now have just gotten their start in recent years.

You can tell the Tipp City folk really look forward to this and take pride in what the town has to offer. 

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Live music was provided by local orchestra and symphony ensembles and the weather was perfect.

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After two days though, this photo says it all. 

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In the area for a while? Follow me to Yellow Springs (blog in progress).

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3 thoughts on “Can’t Keep Mum; Tipp City’s Annual Mum Festival Keeps Blooming

  1. Pingback: Yellow Springs; From the Shawnee Nation and its Coveted Healing Waters, to a Socialist Utopia and Progressive Village | Fernweh

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