Monroe City’s annual Fall Festival this year will feature a program that is, in many ways, a quintessentially Hoosier story.
While this weekend’s festival includes all the staple food offerings, live music and contests residents look forward to, Saturday evening will also see the return of former residents Sam and Sharon Alford for the unveiling of the new Blue Jeans Center pavilion at 1242 Main St.
Sam Alford, a 2002 inductee into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, began his coaching career at Monroe City in in the 1960s before becoming the first-ever coach at the unified South Knox High School.
Later, after coaching at Martinsville and New Castle High Schools, he joined his son Steve — the legendary Indiana University standout — to coach at the collegiate level.
Despite a career that took him all the way to the Big 10 conference in Iowa, event organizers say Alford has always remembered the place that gave him his start.
“He has always remembered his roots, and I think he’s had a fond connection with this area because he appreciates his beginnings,” said Dr. William Thompson.
Thompson, a practicing physician and longtime member of the board of directors for the Blue Jeans Community Center, has spent the last two-and-a-half years leading the efforts to make improvements to the outdoor basketball court at the community center.
“Coach (Alford) has been an integral part of helping our community,” Thompson said. “He was the one who said ‘let’s get a golf outing going with South Knox to raise money,’ and he’s helped us raise a lot of money for the community.”
Thompson says it’s nice to have a way to acknowledge the Alfords for all they have done.
While the new Sam and Sharan Alford Basketball Court Pavilion serves as a tribute to the legendary basketball family and their philanthropy, Thompson says the major renovation of the outdoor court was a labor of love from dozens of community members.
The result of their work, he says, stands as a tribute to the communal effort that took on a life of its own.
“Our first goal was just to get new blacktop and goals, but we were able to get much more than that because of the generosity of the community,” Thompson said.
Between monetary donations and donations of materials and labor, the new basketball pavilion became more than Thompson ever dreamed.
“I think it’s a really heartfelt small-town story, and it’s the community that was at the heart and soul of this project,” he said.
The Sam and Sharan Alford Basketball Court Pavilion dedication will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Fall Festival itself will kick off at 5 p.m. Friday at the community center with a spaghetti dinner sponsored by Lighthouse Church, followed by the King and Queen Pageant at 6 p.m. and a garden tractor pull at 7 p.m. There is a $3 entry fee to the pageant.
On Saturday, a whiffle ball tournament, one open to all ages, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cow Muck Cookers will begin serving barbecue at 9:30 a.m. The pet parade and canine demonstration will begin at 10 a.m. on the front lawn. Live music will begin at 7 p.m.
A community church service will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday, followed by the Jeff Black Fish Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The parade will begin at 2 p.m. The South Knox Band will perform at 3 p.m., followed by music from Cody Williams at 3:30 p.m.
Other features during the festival include homemade ice cream by Walnut Grove, sandwiches, cold drinks, Reed Family Funnel cakes and conies. Inflatables, vendors and half pot drawings will also be available. And the 25 cent clothing thrift store will also be available this weekend.
The whiffle ball tournament and pet parade are open to all ages of participants.
Festival organizers are still seeking vendors and parade entries.
For more information, call 812-743-2393 or Jerry Coonrod at 812-887-4182. For parade entry inquires, call Gene Wiliams at 812-639-8117. To be in the whiffle ball tournament call Audrey Harper at 812-887-3384. To be a vendor call Marlis Day at 812-890-1736. For pageant information call Jenn Candler at 812-677-1217.