BEAVERCREEK — When he started filling the water trough at his country store with popcorn over 30 years ago, Gary Deis probably didn’t realize that his way of saying thank you to his patrons would become a Beavercreek tradition: the Beavercreek Popcorn Festival.
At first it was a small festival at his Bellfair Country Store. It was simple: He’d get some popcorn and some live entertainment for his customers.
“It’s just what he did for the community,” current festival publicity chairwoman Nancy Hadley said.
Eventually the festival grew to the point where it was too big for Deis to handle on his own, and so he handed it off to a private committee, which still operates it today.
The festival has grown a bit through the years: This year there are 279 booths and Hadley estimated that between 40,000-60,000 people will attend. Yeah, it’s grown just a bit.
But even through the years and the expansion, it’s still a family-oriented event. Proceeds from it will go to a local cause of the committee’s choosing. Past causes have included buying AEDs for the Beavercreek Police Department, donating benches to the Beavercreek Senior Center, donating to Michael’s House in Fairborn, among others.
“We generally can donate between seven and ten thousand dollars every year,” Hadley said. “Over our 27 years, we’ve donated close to $100,000 dollars.”
The highlights for this year’s festival include the Popcorn 5K and Fitness Walk Saturday morning, a children’s area, a chainsaw artist, a packed entertainment schedule throughout Saturday and Sunday, a Sunday morning car show, a wide variety of booths to visit and a lot amount of popcorn for attendees to enjoy.
Nathan Pilling is a reporter who covers Greene County agencies and organizations. You can find him on Twitter at @XDGNatePilling or you can call him at 937-502-4498.