By Zachary Daum
The Mascoutah Improvement Association (MIA) held its highly anticipated annual Homecoming Celebration dinner on Saturday, Jan. 6. The event, which started at 6:00 PM, drew a massive crowd of attendees, including MIA members and their dedicated supporters. The night was filled with laughter, camaraderie, and a vibrant atmosphere, thanks to the presence of a lively band.
Before the delectable dinner was served, people gathered and mingled happily, setting the stage for a night of celebration. The Mascoutah Homecoming Princess, Riley Renth, added an element of anticipation as she drew numbers to determine the order in which tables would receive their food.
Former Mascoutah Mayor Jerry Daugherty initiated the evening with a heartfelt prayer, emphasizing unity against hate and expressing gratitude for the past successes of the Mascoutah Improvement Association.
As the dinner progressed, MIA President Steve Heizer took the stage, addressing the assembly with warmth and enthusiasm. Heizer spoke to the assembly, first awarding the traveling trophy, chosen each year by an anonymous judge to their favorite Homecoming Parade float, to Citizens Bank.
A notable announcement followed, with Heizer revealing plans to install a plaque in the train depot, showcasing the yearly winners of the Little Miss Princess Competition. Cheryl Heizer, who oversees the contest, shared the success of ticket sales. “Altogether my girls sold 14,063 tickets this year and Riley sold 5,355 alone. She’s done a great job representing us. She’s come a long way since I first met her. She was shy but now she’s outgoing.”
Expressing a hopeful outlook, Heizer mentioned the absence of candidates running for the queen title in recent years and expressed his desire to see that tradition revived in the future.
Heizer then introduced MIA Treasurer and Mascoutah Mayor Pat McMahan to speak. “I keep track of the numbers and just to throw out a few numbers, the total we took in was around $320,000 gross, and that’s due to all of you. On beer sales, $121,900 and some dollars. On fish sandwiches, which we are famous for, $33,591. That works out to 8,398 sandwiches. I’m in the Noon Lions and we do Friday night (at homecoming) and we sold 2,082 sandwiches, which works out to 5 a minute. All in all we had a very good year. We took in the neighborhood of $35,000 roughly from just the carnies. They say we are the most profitable and biggest event each year. They set records the last two years here. I want to express my appreciation for everything you guys do because they don’t exist without you.”
Donald Karpel, the director of the tractor pulls, addressed the challenges faced during the Homecoming event, particularly dealing with unprecedented rainouts. Despite the setbacks, Karpel expressed gratitude for the dedicated volunteers who tirelessly contributed to the success of the tractor pulls. Acknowledging the importance of new and young volunteers, he emphasized their crucial role in ensuring the continuation and vitality of the Homecoming tradition.
Karpel extended his appreciation to the event sponsors, recognizing their vital role in making the tractor pull a reality each year.
In his closing remarks, Heizer thanked everyone in attendance, expressing his hope that they had enjoyed both the delicious food and the lively music that characterized the evening.