Grand Marshals

Lifelong Momence resident Nancy Simpson has been chosen by the Gladiolus Festival Association as the Grand Marshal in Saturday’s 3 p.m. Grand Street parade.

Nancy has been involved with the festival ever since she was a little girl. Her earliest memory of participating in a festival event was the year the festival had a River Pageant and she was in one of the boats and scared to death! she said. As a youngster, she was also part of the Queen’s Court.

Nancy also remembers running for Gladiolus Festival Queen in high school. She won the Momence vote, but the Wichert vote was stronger and wiped her out of contention. She also marched in the parades playing clarinet as a member of the Momence High School band.

Nancy believes that she has participated in every Gladiolus Festival Flower Show with at least one exhibit, but usually more than one. She chaired the event for one year. She still loves it and will have an entry in the Graham Historic House and Museum Flower Show this year.

She has also designed and helped to build and decorate many of the beautiful Baker & Taylor floats that we all remember were full-flowered. Her favorites were the Gone with the Wind and Cleopatra themed floats. She has also designed the Momence Main Street float and assisted Michelle Simpson with the Simpson’s Family Restaurant floats.

Nancy was married to Frank and they have three sons: Bob, Jon and Rick. They ran Frank’s Truck Stop on the north side of town for 23 years, and ran the Baker & Taylor cafeteria during some of that time, too. She owned Simpson’s Family Restaurant in downtown Momence with her son, Bob, for 13 years. In between those two ventures, she worked as a waitress at the TNT Restaurant. She has fed many of our Glad Fest visitors. She was also busy selling real estate for 25 years.

She has fond memories of the Drum Corps marching in the parades, competing on the football field and of her husband, Frank, and the crew feeding the corps at St. Jude’s Seminary where the corps would stay during their festival visit. She laughs about planting sweet corn annually after moving to the farm, which would always be ready during the festival when they were too busy to do anything with it.

Nancy has seen the Gladiolus Festival change and redevelop itself over the years. She also remembers when the carnival was set up in the downtown area on Washington Street one year and going to see the fireworks that were set off during the festival instead of on the Fourth of July.