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Investing where you live

Courtesy of Times Mail

Persimmon parade preview

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: The parade begins at Lehigh field, travels west on Main Street to Seventh Street, turns north on Seventh to Warren Street, then goes west to Eighth Street. The parade will go north on Eighth Street, ending near Bishop Boulevard and Hancock Avenue.

Lineup: So far, there are 151 entries registered for the 2014 parade, making it among the largest in recent history.

Info: Gary Rayhill, parade chairman, 797-0427.


MITCHELL — Investing where you live. Those are the words used repeatedly by business owners as they discussed the importance of local business to the Mitchell community.

This week, during the 68th annual Persimmon Festival, Mitchell’s businesses are taking the limelight. Christina Lambton, general chairwoman of this year’s event, dedicated the festival to the businesses that have long supported the local community. This year’s theme is “Shop Local … Buy Mitchell.”

“I wanted to salute our local businesses because, in a small town, our local businesses are vital,” Lambton said. “They sponsor sports teams, support our fundraisers, employ our people, and they’re your friends and neighbors.”

The theme doesn’t single out small businesses or locally owned businesses because, as Lambton points out, Lehigh Cement Co. is as important to Mitchell as Holmes Hardware.

“I feel that our local businesses are the heart of our community,” she said.

On Saturday, local businesses will be represented en masse on the grand marshal parade float. Representatives will be: Dana, Brenda and Dwight Dunbar of D&P Foods and Dunbar & Co.; Larry Caudell of Lehigh; Elizabeth Freeman of Chastain Funeral Home and Cremation Services; Don Caudell of Holmes Hardware; and Marvin and Suzanne Patton of ACE Hardware/Ben Franklin.

Dana Dunbar traces his insurance business roots in the Mitchell community back to 1972. Forty-two years later, he believes the importance of small business to the community can’t be overstated.

“Wherever you place your corporate headquarters, the community is always going to benefit,” said Dunbar, who operates Dunbar & Co. Insurance and founded D&P Foods, the parent company of Arby’s in Bedford and Mitchell, that he continues to operate with his wife Brenda, brother Dwight and shareholders Danny and Debbie Pearcy.

“All business is welcomed in all communities, but local businesses have more influence because that’s where you live, it’s where your children go to school and it’s where you are born and raised. You want your community to thrive, so you invest in it.”

Don Caudell, owner and operator of Holmes Hardware, which traces its Mitchell roots back to 1887, when it started as a grocery and general store, has been involved in the hardware store his entire life. His ancestors started the store in the same location it still occupies, and his family has been involved in its operation ever since.

“We’ve always believed that, while we make our living here, we need to support the community,” said Caudell, who will be joined in the parade with his three granddaughters. “One of the things I’ve always been proud about is that, when the first Little League was organized for the kids, we were an original sponsor, us and Lehigh, and we’re still sponsoring those teams.

“It’s not just a job because your whole life is in the community.”

ACE Hardware/Ben Franklin was started in 1976 by Sam and Sandy Carnell. The business is now operated by their daughter, Suzanne Patton, and her husband Marvin. The Pattons enjoy doing business in a small town, where they know 90 percent of their customers by name.

“We love our customers, love our town and our employees,” Suzanne said. “The beauty of it is that, most of the time, when you walk in here, we recognize your face.”

Marvin agreed, saying, “The personal touch is the way we like to do business. We live here and shop here, just like our customers.”

And doing business in the small town where you live is a privilege — one that isn’t taken lightly, said Elizabeth Freeman, who operates Chastain Funeral Home along with her brother James Freeman and Albert and Jenny Chastain.

“As a funeral director in my hometown, I find it a privilege to be able to serve the local community,” Elizabeth Freeman said. “Through this role, I am able to help the many friends and families that I have known my entire life, during their time of need. Being a part of a local business that cares for the people of this community brings me great pride.”

For the past 112 years, Lehigh has been a building block of the Mitchell community, employing hundreds of men and women. One of those employees — Larry Caudell — has worked for the company for 41 years and plans to retire at the end of this year.

Sandi Wyborny, human resource manager for the Mitchell plant, said Caudell was chosen to represent Lehigh in Saturday’s parade because of his long history with the company and his involvement in Mitchell.

“For 11 decades, the Mitchell plant has been a stable presence in the community, employing thousands of hard-working people, many multiple family members and generations,” Wyborny said. “Lehigh takes pride in producing a quality product and is equally proud of working together to build our community.

“Larry Caudell is a life-long resident of Mitchell. He has been active in the Mitchell community, serving as a volunteer fireman for 32 years, including the role of fire chief from 1984 to 2006. … Larry has been a dedicated employee with a strong work ethic and will be missed. We would all like to wish him a happy and healthy retirement.”

Contact Times-Mail Staff Writer Krystal Shetler at 277-7264 or by email at

Kluender reigns at fest

Courtesy of Times Mail



Kluender reigns at fest

Times-Mail / GARET COBBMITCHELL — The 2014 Persimmon Festival queen and her court. Front row, left to right: Princess Fiona Schlegel, Queen Anna Kluender, Princess Meghan Emberton. Back row, left to right: Princess Chelsea Terrell, Miss Congeniality Mecala Lester, Princess Mattie England, Princess Christanna Rayhill, and Princess Madison McNeely.

MITCHELL — “Wow,” was the reaction expressed by 16-year-old Anna Louise Kluender after being named the 2014 Persimmon Festival Queen on Monday night.

“I didn’t go into the contest expecting to win,” she said. “I really got to know a lot of the girls really well. You know them, but in a pageant like this you get to know them personally.”

She said she enjoyed the experience of getting dressed up for the event.

“I never thought I’d be a pageant girl,” she said.

Kluender reigns at fest

Kluender is the daughter of Jill and Andy Kluender and is a junior at Mitchell High School. She is a member of SADD, Student Council, Tri-Hi-Y, Key Club, French Club, Fresh Start, Science Club and Art Club, and is assistant coach of the Mitchell Junior High School Spell Bowl team. She attends Calvary Lutheran Church.

She is joined in the court by Miss Congeniality Mecala Nicole Lester and princesses Chelsey Terrell, Fiona Schlegel, Mattie England, Christanna Rayhill, Madison Elizabeth NcMeely and Meghan Jade Emberton.

Important Announcement!!!

Important Announcement!!!

Change of schedule for tonight, all other events will be as scheduled. While The Festival Queen hasn’t changed, I figured people would ask.

6:00 pm Mini, Little and Junior Miss contests.

Main Street Stage.

8:00 pm Persimmon Festival Queen Pageant.

Crowning on the Main Stage

Preliminary judging will be Saturday 9/20 at 5:00 at the High School Auditorium, open to the public. $2 ticket price. Crowning will take place on the main stage.

Taking Charge!

Courtesy of Times Mail

Taking Charge

MITCHELL — The annual implementation of the Persimmon Festival tends to leave even the most seasoned volunteers awestruck. Just ask Christina Lambton.

Lambton, general chairwoman of the 68th annual Persimmon Festival, is no stranger to service.

She admits she has a hard time saying no when it comes to helping others, and with a volunteer repertoire a mile long, that much is obvious.

As if making sure the week-long Persimmon Festival, which continues through Saturday, goes off without a hitch wasn’t enough, Lambton is also in her second year of serving as president of the United Way of South Central Indiana, a job in itself.

“I believe in the service our partner agencies provide because they’re some of the most important things in our community, and I believe in the United Way programs, such as Kindergarten Countdown, my very favorite program we provide,” said Lambton, who is in the midst of her second term on the UW board. “I’d guess you could say it’s pretty obvious I don’t know how to say no.”

So when former festival chairman Steve Dobson asked Lambton to join him in the three-year planning process that brings the Persimmon Festival to fruition each year, she jumped at the chance.

“I didn’t have to think about it much, but I didn’t understand the complexity of what this job entails,” Lambton said. “I knew it was hard work, but I didn’t understand at the time what that meant.”

It means taking a week off work from her job as assistant to the mayor of Mitchell. It means timing waitressing shifts at the Phi Beta Psi food tent around festival power outages. It means carrying a radio on one hip and balancing her daughter’s requests on the other. It means fielding complaints, compliments and fixing problems.

“The past three years of doing this have been wonderful,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun to see the planning come to fruition festival week when you hit the ground running and don’t stop for seven days.”

Lambton has made a few changes to this year’s festival. Some have been welcomed; others not so much.

“To make it successful, I’ve made some changes this year, such as opening the commercial tent an extra day and moving the queen contest judging from Sunday to Saturday,” she said. “I think whenever you make changes, you’re going to have both complaints and compliments.”

Before joining the festival committee three years ago, Lambton wasn’t familiar with the workings of one of southern Indiana’s premiere events and what it takes each year to make it a success. Now, she’s awestruck.

“Seeing the whole community come together, especially the nonprofits coming out to show what they do for the community, such as the Varsity Club and Phi Beta Psi sorority, is amazing,” Lambton said. “Besides the food, it’s my favorite part of the festival.”

But planning such a massive event also has its challenges.

“I’m a people-pleaser by nature,” she said. “I want everyone to be happy. When you’re doing something like this, making sure everyone is happy and having a good time is difficult.”

This year, Lambton is assisted by her co-chairs Teresa Reynolds, who will take the helm after this week, and Henry Shetler. The parade chairman is Gary Rayhill.

“My co-chairs have been awesome,” Lambton said. “It’s been great to work with Henry, Teresa and Gary. I always count Gary as a part of the festival committee because of the hard work and dedication he puts into this festival each year.

“I’ve already put in my order with Mother Nature, and I think she’s going to deliver. It’s going to be a great week.”

Contact Times-Mail Staff Writer Krystal Shetler at 277-7264 or by email at