By JENNIFER MEIER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
“If you blink, you’ll miss it” — can refer to many small towns along the back roads of America.
That saying could at one time have aptly described Cromwell, population 500.
“A little over a year ago the downtown was basically a Lake City Bank branch and the post office,” said local businessman Steve Kelly.
During the past year, an extraordinary turn around saw 15 new or renewed businesses adding life to this tiny town along Ind. 5.
To celebrate this revival, the Cromwell Wharf Grand Opening Committee put together a weekend of vendors, entertainers, ceremonies, seminars, and shows. The events will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“We have a lot to offer locals, lakers and tourists,” Kelly said. “We want to join in the loop of Noble County tourist attractions along Lincoln Highway.”
A portion of the downtown area now known as the Cromwell Wharf includes one of the new businesses, Strongbox Spirits. The town identifies itself with a nearby chain of lakes, which includes the largest natural lake in Indiana, Lake Wawasee.
Hardwood plank floors, a ceiling painted to resemble the sky and a shipping motif re-create the deck of the Revolutionary War ship the Oliver Cromwell. That ship was launched in 1776 and sank or captured nine British ships during the American Revolution.
Next door, the Moonraker Pub continues the wharf theme, and offers steaks, seafood and sandwiches.
Another new business along the wharf is the Farmer’s Café. Jus Jeans, also part of the Cromwell Wharf is under new ownership.
“I think this tiny town turn around is the most exciting thing to happen in Noble County history,” Kelly said.
Events set for all weekend include street vendors, Busker Street Entertainers working for tips, a Cromwell-Kimmell Lions Club bicycle raffle, Stuckman’s Sledge Hammer Car, Art Buchcannan Cart Rides, Strongbox Spirits history tours, Noble Nimble Thimbles Quilt Guild show, Farmer’s Café ice cream specials, Moonraker Photos (costumes provided or wear your own), patriotic music and events, trivia, games and 1776 Revolutionary Re-enactors on street and stage.
Friday’s events include a 1776 flag ceremony; a Moonraker Pub tall tale competition; entertainment by Hubie & Travis; Mobile Marine boat tips and tricks seminar at the Moonraker Pub; wine types and tastes at the Moonraker; and the Incognito Cloggers at Jus Jeans.
Saturday’s featured event will begin with a 4 p.m. Samaritan helicopter fly over, and the North Webster American Legion Color Guard presentation with a tribute to fallen heroes. At 4:30 p.m. Miss South Bend and West Noble High School graduate Megan Layne, will cut the ribbon for the official grand opening of the Cromwell Wharf as well as to celebrate the new or revitalized businesses in the downtown and industrial park areas. Also on stage will be state Sen. Carlin Yoder and state Rep. David Ober.
Other Saturday activities include an early morning 5K, 1 K and half mile runs; re-enactors Revolutionary War flag ceremony and musket salute; a free car and motorcycle shine and show; competition (all makes, models and years accepted); basketball competition; whiskey history and tastes at Moonraker Pub; contra dance and waltz basics lessons; and various musical performers.
The festivities end Sunday with Cinco de Mayo celebrations, including a Mexican fiesta, mariachi music, a horse parade and show and free Spanish dance demonstrations and lessons including the mambo, salsa, cha-cha, tango, rumba, meringue and Hispanic karaoke.
Other events will be an 1862 and 1776 flag ceremony, card and colonial games at the Moonraker, Mexican beer tasting and bar games.
The Stone’s Trace Historical Society and Wolf Lake Lucky Hospital museum are both holding open houses over the weekend.
The weekend celebration begins at noon on Friday and Sunday and at 8 a.m. on Saturday. A schedule of events will be posted outside the Moonraker Pub. Copies of the events schedule will be available throughout the weekend and visitors can find information at the event tent trailer.