Mayor’s Promenade at the Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival
To see Ron Cummings decked out in 1800s attire, you would swear he traveled through time from another century. This was the effect he was aiming for when he chose his suit for this year’s Mayor’s Promenade.
“I’ve always been interested in art and history, and this costume has both,” said Cummings, who carried a puppet he made of gourds to represent General Tom Thumb, a little person who traveled with P.T. Barnum.
Each year, Cummings chooses a theme for his promenade costume, and this year’s ensemble was in honor of a stop the Barnum Traveling Museum made in Coshocton in the mid-1800s with Tom Thumb. Cummings dressed to represent his roustabout helper, he said.
“I’ve done almost all of the promenades. I think it works being part of the festival and Roscoe Village,” he said, referring to the 46th annual Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival that wrapped up Sunday.
This was the first year that the Mayor’s Promenade was part of the annual event. It was formally part of the Coshocton Canal Festival, but was merged with the Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival after the Canal Festival disbanded earlier this year.
This year’s Mayor’s Promenade included about 25 participating locals in costumes, Coshocton Canal royalty that was crowned Saturday at the Apple Butter Stirrin’ Festival, and visiting royalty. The participants started their walk at the Lake Park Pavilion and made their way down the towpath, stopping at Frances B. Montgomery Memorial Garden at the Roscoe Village Visitors’ Center for a recognition ceremony.
“I try to get myself into the era,” said Cummings, who gets his clothing ideas for 1800s clothing styles from books on historical textiles, the Ohio Historical Society and the Carnegie Museum. “I refurbish clothing, and like to play with different types of jackets. I think next year I’ll do a traditional workman’s jacket,” Cummings said.
Amanda Meiser, chairwoman of the Mayor’s Promenade, explained that years ago, the Canal Festival and promenade took place in Roscoe, so it’s a good fit. “It think it’s perfect to be back in Roscoe Village,” Meiser said. “So many of these traditions used to be set in Roscoe; it’s nice to be back home.”
Following activities at the Montgomery Garden, many of the participants also walked through Roscoe Village for visitors to see. “People are so excited to see the costumes. It’s just something that sets us apart from other festivals,” Meiser said.
Nancy Porteus, of West Lafayette, has been to all but two of the Mayor’s Promenades. As a seamstress, making matching costumes worn by each of her family members has become a tradition that started when her daughters were kids and wanted “everything the same.” For the promenade, it’s also about keeping 1800s history alive through dress.
“It reminds you of yesteryear,” Porteus said. “I wouldn’t want to dress like this every day, but with the mayor leading us down the towpath and leading us into Roscoe Village; it’s like stepping back in time.”
This year, nine members of the Porteus family wore yellow and black plaid 1850s style riding costumes with top hats, similar to dresses women would wear to ride side-saddle in the 19th century.
“I love the lace,” said Sophia Dotson, 11, granddaughter of Nancy Porteus. The next generation to carry on the promenade tradition, Sophia said that taking part in the event makes her feel special. “I like that the mayor gets to lead us, and I like that we get to dress up and get a lot of pictures,” she said.
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