GOSHEN — Hours before this year's Elkhart County 4-H Fair parade, director Boyd Smith made his rounds through the Linway Plaza parking lot.
This is his 16th year as the parade director, and hopefully his last, he said.
"I love the parade, but as parade director you're a steward of the event," Smith said. "This isn't the Boyd Smith parade. It's important to pass that on to someone else."
There were 114 total entries in this year's parade that departed from Linway Plaza Sunday afternoon and weaved through downtown Goshen to the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds. The funds raised from float entries in the parade go back to the fair to cover various expenditures, including 4-H prizes and helping offset costs for high school bands to perform in the parade, Smith said.
The parade is organized through volunteers from the Goshen Noon Kiwanis Club and others who give countless hours to the fair, he said.
"The Kiwanians are a hard charging group of volunteers," Smith said. "Volunteerism is a big part of our community and if it weren't for them, this parade wouldn't happen."
Longtime Goshen businessman and founding member of the Goshen Noon Kiwanis Club, Jerry Trolz, was surprised Sunday with the opportunity to ride in the front of the parade, led by Elkhart County sheriff Jeff Siegel. Trolz usually leads the parade himself but due to health concerns, fellow Kiwanian Marty Long told him he could take a break this year.
"I was choked up. I didn't expect that," Trolz said.
Each year when the parade is finished, Smith said he can't help but smile and he hopes next year he can watch from the sidelines.
"I'm sure I'll be involved in one way or another after I'm done being director," he said. "I want to one day bring my grandchildren to the parade."
Ben Mikesell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 328. Follow him on Twitter at @ben_mikesell.