COLUMBIA — Families began to line the sides of Broadway a little before 10 a.m. Saturday to watch the parade that would soon be making its way through downtown Columbia.
Children ran around playing games and laughing, keeping curious eyes open to the street, looking out for the first glimpse of a float. Some parents lounged in portable folding chairs while others sat on the curb, patiently waiting for the official kickoff of the Boone County Fair.
Meanwhile, a parking lot on the corner of Dorsey Street and Broadway was littered with lines of brightly colored floats and crowds of all ages. They slowly filtered out to the street in succession, chanting, cheering and preparing to throw candy, T-shirts, beads and other goodies to the parade onlookers.
Much to many children’s delight, goats, sheep and horses were marched through the crowds among the floats.
Beverley Thomas and Amy Sanders rode their horses in the parade. This is the fourth consecutive year Thomas has ridden her daughter’s horse, Sandy, through the downtown streets.
Both horses, Sandy and Maverick, belonged to Thomas' daughter, Molly Bowden. Bowden, a Columbia police officer killed in the line of duty in January 2005, loved horses and was very involved in rural youth organization 4-H, Thomas said.
“Molly liked to ride Sandy (in the parade),” Thomas said. Keeping that tradition is a way that she and Sanders, a friend of Bowden, keep the memory of Bowden alive in Columbia.
Marcus Burgett, 13, walked alongside the Rock Bridge 4-H Club float. He passed out green beaded necklaces and talked to children and parents watching the parade.
“It’s fun chanting with my friends and giving necklaces to little kids,” Burgett said.
“He likes talking to parents about 4-H and interacting with others,” his mother, Bobbie Rhoades, added.
This year marked Burgett’s third time walking alongside the 4-H float, but he has been participating in the Boone County Fair for five years. He shows sheep and vegetables, and does arts and crafts.
Burgett, along with his family, arrived at 8:45 a.m. to help prepare the float to ride in the parade. This year’s Rock Bridge 4-H Club theme was “Clover Party,” and the float’s main attraction was a giant white-and-green cake. Club members rode along on the float as a truck pulled it through the downtown streets.
In the float competition, the Rock Bridge 4-H Club float won second place. Burgett was a little disappointed when he heard the news, but he quickly brushed it off and explained that the Rock Bridge 4-H Club float has won first place the last few years.
A city street sweeper brushed the road behind the fire trucks, bringing up the rear of the parade. Families filed into cars and vans, children excitedly showing off and trading candy and bead necklaces.
The Boone County Fair continues Saturday with a horse and pony show at 1 p.m. and a 4-H dog show at 6 p.m.