75th Persimmon Festival - Volunteers and Community Make Festival a Success
MITCHELL - AUGUST 15, 2022 - As July begins its transition into August, most people are focused on the start of the new school year. In Mitchell, however, once the new school year starts, all eyes begin focusing on the Persimmon Festival.
Front row, from left: Krystal Shetler and Tonya Chastain. Back row, from left: Don Caudell, Mark Bryant and Larry Caudell
Steeped in a tradition of excellence, the Mitchell Persimmon Festival celebrates its 75th year of highlighting our community’s volunteerism and pride through a week-long downtown event set for Sept. 17-24, 2022. Each year, the festival showcases the value Mitchell places on bringing home its native sons and daughters.
The Persimmon Festival celebrated its first year in 1947 when longtime Mitchell educator and native, George Bishop, came up with the plan to start a three-day festival in late October as a homecoming for those who called Mitchell their home. From there, the festival grew into a week-long celebration that encompasses Spring Mill State Park as well as downtown Mitchell as an all-volunteer staff of community members plan nightly musical entertainment, craft shows, fantastic food offerings, a carnival, a historic re-creation, car shows, queen contests and fun for people of all ages.
This year, we are celebrating that 75-year tradition with a look back on our past with an eye toward our future with the simple, yet fitting theme: “75 Years of Persimmon Traditions.”
The Persimmon Festival will celebrate its history by honoring Diana (Bishop) Chastain as its grand marshal to pay homage to the festival her father built 75 years ago. Diana and her husband Ron were high school sweethearts, growing up in Mitchell and graduating from Mitchell High School, where her father was first a physics teacher, then led MHS as principal, before finishing out his career and life as superintendent of Mitchell Community Schools.
The Greater Mitchell Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the festival each year, built a committee of past and future festival chairmen to bring together a festival like no other. Featured on the cover of the 2022 Indiana Festival Guide, it’s poised to be one of the most talked about and well-attended festivals in the Hoosier State.
The planning committee has been working for more than two years to brainstorm, schedule and implement the 75th anniversary event with an eye toward creating an event that will honor the history and traditions of the beloved festival.
This year’s planning committee consists of Don Caudell II, Tonya Chastain, Mark Bryant, Larry Caudell and Krystal Shetler, along with the assistance of future chairwomen, Amy Carlisle and Carol Chambers. Together, this group is poised to bring the Mitchell community, Lawrence County and the State of Indiana one of the most anticipated festivals of 2022.
Don Caudell II: Following in his father’s footsteps, Don chaired the 1979 festival and has served as the longtime treasurer of the Greater Mitchell Chamber of Commerce.
Tonya Chastain: Tonya’s family remains among the most active in the Persimmon Festival through its involvement with the Phi Beta Psi sorority and food tent. She chaired the festival in 2001.
Mark Bryant: Mark has served in various capacities with both the chamber and the festival for many years. Mitchell’s current clerk-treasurer led the festival in 1997.
Larry Caudell: One of Mitchell’s city councilman as well as a community volunteer for decades, Larry chaired the festival in 2018.
Krystal Shetler: Krystal’s involvement in the festival goes back 20 years to when she was asked to lead the Persimmon Pudding and Novelty Dessert Contest and has spread from there. She led the festival in 2010.
Carol Chambers: Carol, a longtime Mitchell volunteer and member of Tri Kappa, is learning the ropes as she gets ready to chair the 2023 festival.
Amy Carlisle: Young and full of great ideas, Amy has worked under former chairwoman Suzanne Patton and will assist Carol in implementing next year’s festival. Her festival will come in 2024.
“On behalf of the Greater Mitchell Chamber of Commerce, the Persimmon Festival committee hopes you will visit our beautiful southern Indiana town, taking in all the tourist attractions that make Lawrence County and Mitchell a great place to live, work and visit," the festival committee notes. “While in Mitchell, we hope you’ll visit the businesses that help make this festival possible with their continued sponsorships. Most of all, we hope you’ll enjoy the Persimmon Festival by visiting our vendors, watching the live musical entertainment each night on the Main Street Stage and celebrating Lawrence County’s quirky little fruit: The native persimmon. Welcome to Mitchell and its beloved Persimmon Festival, and thank you for coming to our grand homecoming.”