MASON CITY — Mason City’s historic Central Park will be the backdrop for the third annual Great River City Festival on Saturday, Sept. 19.
The award-winning event (it won a state-wide award from Main Street Iowa) will be a full day of activities for people of all ages.
Mason City has its own historical thriller — when a gang of mobsters led by John Dillinger came to town on March 13, 1934, and robbed the First National Bank.
To help bring this history to life, there will be authentic re-enactments of the robbery at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Re-enactors from as far away as Texas, North Carolina, Kansas and Illinois who have experience with similar events are participating to make it as exciting and safe as possible.
There will be blanks fired from real Tommy guns in keeping with the original robbery. Fortunately, in part because of the smart-thinking and bravery of local citizens and police, no one was killed in Mason City.
Throughout the day, there will be a wide variety of food available, including corn dogs, cotton candy and popcorn, as well as music, 1930s vintage cars, and horse and buggy rides.
The Mason City Market farmer’s market will be open, and arts, craft and antique exhibitors will also be selling their goods.
There will be children’s inflatables, activities for families, and kids’ games and activities provided by the YMCA.
The multi-talented Hanson Family of Kanawha will be on hand with unicycles, juggling and face-painting. They will also create balloon animals and teach juggling to the kids.
At The Bookery, authors John Koblas and Rick Mattix, along with Ellen Poulsen, author of “Don’t Call Us Molls, Women of the John Dillinger Gang,” will be on hand to discuss and sign their books.
There will be displays of photos and artifacts from the robbery and the time period. Local historians and police historian Sgt. Scott will be on hand to share information and answer questions. The locally-produced documentary, “Teargas and Tommy Guns,” will also be shown throughout the day.
10 a.m.-4 p.m., Craft, Antique and Farmers Market exhibitors. Assortment of food vendors in Central Park. Beer Tent, sponsored by Main Street Mason City
10 a.m.-4 p.m., Vintage Cars of the 1930s (North Iowa Vintage Car Club).
10 a.m.-4 p.m., Historical displays, 5 S. Federal Ave. Sgt Scott, Mason City Police historian; robbery artifacts and pictures on display; “Teargas & Tommy Guns” documentary, on-going; Rick Mattix, nationally known historian; Oral history project (share your recollections)
10 a.m.-4 p.m., The multi-talented Hanson Family of Kanawha (juggling, unicycling, face painting, balloon animals)
10 a.m.-4 p.m., Children’s inflatables (North Iowa Youth Center); Authors John Koblas, Rick Mattix, and Ellen Poulsen signing books at The Bookery
11 a.m.-3 p.m., City National Bank open house (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright)
11:45 a.m.-2 p.m., Architectural Tours (meet at 5 S. Federal Ave.)
Noon-2 p.m., YMCA sponsored kid’s activities in Central Park
Noon-3 p.m., Pam’s Horse and Carriage Rides
12:30 p.m., Mayor’s comments
11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m., Authentic reenactments of the March 13, 1934, bank heist; Meet the Actors Curtain Call — talk with the reenactors and get their autographs after each reenactment.