What an ending to an ooky, spooky, kooky but all-da-gether fantastic Neewollah festival. The skies were clear and the air was warm Friday and Saturday as crowds lined the streets for the Kiddie Parade and Grand Parade, and excited concert goers rushed into Memorial Hall for the professional show starring Lee Greenwood.

The Kiddie Parade featured every kind of costume from the simple ghosts to the complicated Toy Story characters. Military personnel, train engineers, Deadpool characters, several Incredible's families, Pooh bears, pandas, pumpkins, princesses, Harry Potters, witch's, super heroes, macaroni and cheese bowls, Trolls, lions, Dalmatians, PJ Masks characters and more traveled south on Penn Ave. showing off their best and cutest Halloween costumes. 

The streets were lined with family, friends and just those in general who wanted to see the littles in their funnest apparel. Many of the little characters didn't last through the short walk and ended the parade on a sleepy note while others were ready to head over to the carnival and join others on the spinning bears, fish that fly and cars they can drive.

The bandstand was alive Friday evening and kept the crowds moving. Featured Friday were The Caddywhompus Band, Flowsion, Edge Over Edge and Straight Away.

The Grand Parade was not the only happening Saturday as the Arts and Crafts show kicked off at 8 a.m. and the carnival rides started at 10 a.m. The Grand Parade began at 11 a.m. and included 117 entries of marching bands, floats (with many winners), dance troops and so much more to entertain every age attending the festivities.

The Marching Band Festival was held following the parade at Shulthis Stadium and the bandstand entertainment began. Included in the Saturday bandstand lineup was Michael Mothershed & Funktion Junction, R&S Dance Studio, Mahan, Lockeland and Let's Zeppelin.

The highlight of the festival for many was the professional show which featured Lee Greenwood with Kyle Dillingham and Horseshoe Road as the opening act. The fiddling style of Dillingham was incredible and the crowd demonstrated their favor by clapping along as he performed "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with lightning speed. Dillingham said he was thrilled to be at Neewollah as he has been wanting to play the festival for some years now. He said he is honored to work with Jim Halsey and continued with several original songs including one he dedicated to Halsey.

Following Dillingham's performance, excitement in the crowd rose knowing next on stage was country music icon Lee Greenwood. The Marine Corps League entered Memorial Hall to place the flag of the United States on stage for the performance and the "Star Spangled Banner" was played with the audience singing along. Greenwood entered the stage to a rousing round of applause and spoke of this being his second performance in Independence and how excited he was to be back. 

He kicked off his performance with his popular song, "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands" and the hits continued from there. The last part of his show was patriotic and when he sang "God Bless the USA" the audience rose and sang along, causing chills and raised hairs for this reporter. 

Those attending the show were able to help Greenwood celebrate his 76th birthday as Generalissimo Keith Confer, Queen Neelah LXXVII Emma Stoner and Grand Marshal of the Grand Parade Jim Halsey presented Greenwood with a birthday cake. Greenwood thanked everyone and was happy to share his special sweet treat with the audience following the show in the lobby. Halsey spoke of how happy he was to be at Neewollah and was honored to be the Grand Marshal for the event. "I heard someone calling our little town a podunk town," Halsey said. "Well, I happen to love our podunk town."

As exciting and successful as 2018 Neewollah was, work has already begun for the 2019 festivities.