Vader, Ohio — a town where some find annoyance with sharing a name with the labored-breathing villain of the “Star Wars” franchise — will embrace the shared namesake for this year’s Vader May Day Festival.
The festival will be on May 4, and has a theme this year of “May the Fourth Be With You” — a play on words of the “Star Wars” catchphrase “may the force be with you.” May Day has seen a significant increase in vendors from years past, said the festival’s committee secretary Jessica Gean.
Gean said that throughout the year, representatives of Vader’s festival went to other Lewis County towns’ festivities and did some networking among the vendors. More vendors will attend, and as a result, this year’s May Day will be taking up more space in the town, she said. A festival that has historically taken up the space of about three city blocks will now span four.
A parade is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m., and is set to feature a long list of participants — fire engines, logging trucks, horses and more are planning to take part. Gean said it’ll probably go on for about an hour.
A silent auction starts before the parade and goes through the day. So far, there are more than 30 donated items. They include artwork, baskets filled with goods and gift certificates for restaurants, massages, hair salons and more.
The vendors will come from throughout Lewis and surrounding counties. A bike raffle will gift a boy’s bike and a girl’s bike to lucky winners, and there will be a selection of free carnival games for kids.
There’s a planned cakewalk for kids, too, but Gean noted adults sometimes take part, often with entertaining results.
For the first time, there will be a car show going on throughout the day, said Gean, and a beer garden will be open, too. A live band will provide musical entertainment for guests at the beer garden. While it’s not the first time guests have had the option of enjoying a good brew outside during the festival, it’s a feature that hasn’t been around for years, said Gean.
And of course, a “Star Wars” theme will be notable throughout. Already, T-shirts are on sale with silhouettes of popular “Star Wars” characters — with Darth Vader, appropriately, taking center stage. They’re being sold for $20.
Gean said the May Day committee reached out to the 501st Legion — a group of volunteers who dress up in authentic “Star Wars” costumes.
“They look like they just stepped out of the movie,” said Gean.
It’s not confirmed that members of the group will be there or not, but Gean said she and other members of the committee are hoping at least a few volunteers will be available for photos with festival attendees.
She said it was the committee that made the decision to go with a “Star Wars” theme, and to take advantage of May 4’s unofficial status as Star Wars Day.
The committee is a group that fluctuates from year to year, said Gean, depending on who is interested and who is available.