Redneck. The name itself conjures imagery of less-than-clever country folk who probably wouldn’t understand the definition of their own stereotype, if they were able to sound out all those big words.
However, those who organize and participate in the Redneck in Ramona Independence Day celebration not only understand the pigeonhole, they turn it upside down, celebrate it with creativity, and flaunt it as a venue for social interaction, camaraderie, and good-spirited laughter.
Jessica Gilbert, coordinator for the event, takes great pleasure in seeing it come to fruition each year.
“We always have stellar people who do it year after year,” Gilbert said. “There are three or four families who really put a lot into the floats.”
Gail and Marissa Makovec, along with Gail’s brother, Ron, have won the float competition most years, Gilbert said.
“They are the float people,” she said. “They usually wait till the day of to cook something up. Last year, I was so thrilled. They had a big semi truck and did the complete ‘Duck Dynasty’ thing with trapping animals and women putting on lipstick.”
However, last year Carla Hajek, Danielle Coup, and many other employees at First National Bank of Hope took first.
“Our idea was redneck mobile banking,” Coup said. “We used an RV. Fifteen people walked and sat on top of the RV, throwing candy.”
Coup said her group would try to reclaim first this year with a redneck spin on online banking. However, the exact nature of their float is to be revealed only in the parade.
“I enjoy all people and especially all the creativity that goes into the parade,” Coup said. “It’s great family fun.”
Gavin Shields of Lincolnville is another regular contender in the parade, Gilbert said. Last year his theme was redneck car repair. His float included a broken down car with its hood up and a redneck pinup-style mechanic.
“They had their recipe down,” Gilbert said. “There was a gal in short shorts.”
She said another creative competitor is Julie Noeth. Last year she helped bring a redneck health center float to life.
“They had barbells with 12-packs on each end, a recliner for arm curls, and redneck yoga, where people were falling over tables and chairs after having too much to drink.”
An assortment of prizes are awarded to participants throughout the celebration including three $100 prizes for Most Redneck, Judges’ Choice, and first place in the float competition.
“The prizes don’t compensate for the creativity,” she said. “But in our modest town $100 is a big deal.”
Participants in other events like a redneck run and lawnmower obstacle course often arrive in full redneck attire.
“We have a lot of ‘rednecky’ things,” she said. “People get more points for doing something funny. Laughter is a good thing. You always wonder what it’s going to take to knock someone off the throne.”
This year, those 18 and younger will have the chance to compete in a lawn-painting competition.
“Each team, which can be as few as one or as many as four, will be given a space about 10 by 10 feet to put a design in, all created with spray paint on grass,” Gilbert said. “My sister, Pat Wick, teaches art to third through fifth grades at Centre Elementary School, and we’re proud to say that Ramona has quite a few outstanding young artists.”
The first place team will receive $100; second, $50; and third, $25.
Other events include a country breakfast featuring biscuits and gravy from 8 to 10 a.m., a benefit car show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a three-on-three basketball tournament beginning at 1 p.m.
The lawnmower obstacle course and whimsical face painting will start at 5 p.m., a kid’s tractor race at 5:30 p.m., and the redneck parade at 6 p.m.
Festivities will include nail driving, pie eating, and tug-of-war contests, as well as classic country and rock-n-roll performed by the Justus Band, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Fireworks will snap, crackle, and pop around 9:45 p.m. when it gets dark.
Registration is free. Forms can be found at www.RamonaKS.com. For more information, call Gilbert at (785) 258-4086.