Some good old fashioned fun at the Webster Fall Festival


From Dave Polley, Webster Fall Festival:

The Webster Township Historical Society (WTHS) and the Webster United Church of Christ (WUCC) are hosting the 39th annual Webster Fall Festival on Saturday, September 24.

The 2022 Festival is dedicated to our guest of honor, Rev. John P. Gardner. Gardner, along with Jim Parker, (deceased) are credited with starting the discussions and laying the groundwork that led to the Fall Festival. The first festival was in 1981 and lasted for three days starting with a square dance and ending with a pig roast. In ’82, the festival was cut to two days with a parade, an historic Webster homes tour, and live music being added. The following years squeezed everything into one day. Gardner stated, “If someone had a gift, we tried to use it.” It’s been told that the state champion hog caller would call the festival goers over when the pork dinner was ready and that that activity morphed into husband calling.

The original goals of the festival were to showcase the township and raise money for the WTHS and the WUCC. These goals hold for today. Gardner is quick to credit Parker a being the galvanizing force that brought the festival into reality. “Jim’s passion drove its creation,” Gardner recalls. John also gives Marjorie Smyth, (deceased) accolades for her organizing abilities in chairing the planning committee. Smyth recalled that Gardner wanted to name the event the Hickory Festival, but that she vetoed the name over PR concerns. May Mast, (deceased) who sold land for the Webster Historic Village is also given recognition for her involvement in the early days.

John Gardner was pastor of Webster UCC for 17 years, from 1980 – 1997. He and his wife Vida lived in the Italianate parsonage, the Scadin House north of the church. During his time, the congregation began Webster Township’s first recycling center out of Scadin Barn, became active in the Hunger Coalition with other Ann Arbor churches, and started a ministry called the Mental Illness Working Group. Gardener has a passion for the stage and was involved in three productions held in the Crossroads Community Center. Gardner recalled the thriving ministry of the church, never large in numbers but lots of creativity!”

The creativity of the Fall Festival continues today. A live auction will start at 9:30, with the other events beginning at 10:30. Antique tractors and cars, blacksmithing, old-time baseball game, log hewing, hayrides, lessons in the Podunk Schoolhouse, Aerial silks show and live music featuring the RFD Boys will occur. Visit
for more complete listing. John Gardner will be honored at the Dieterle Corncrib shortly after 5PM. Gardner will then draw the winners of the raffle.

The 39th Annual Webster Fall Festival, September 24, 9:30 – 6PM, 5484 Webster Church Road, Dexter.

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