‘Mr. Bluegrass’ picked to lead Oktoberfest parade

Most people who know the man picked to lead this year’s Oktoberfest parade because of his work to bring bluegrass music to as many venues as possible in south central Indiana.

Fewer, however, know 86-year-old Donald Lee “D.L.” Tatlock spent many years helping preserve the history of Seymour and Jackson County.

LaWanda Tidd, chairwoman of the parade, said one of the favorite parts of her job is having the chance to help pick the parade grand marshal.

“Because we are picking someone who has given so much to the community,” she said.

Tatlock fills that bill, she said.

“He has just done such great things for the community,” Tidd said.

Tatlock, who was born and raised in the Russell Chapel area south of Tampico, is known as “Mr. Bluegrass” because of his commitment to promoting that form of music not only at Oktoberfest but at the Hayden Historical Museum, in Vallonia and Columbus and at other venues in the region.

Tatlock, a 1949 graduate of Tampico High School, also was president of the Jackson County Historical Society, now known as the Jackson County History Center, from 1985 to 1999. During his 14-year tenure, he led efforts to expand Ball Museum and acquire an adjacent livery stable and acquire land to expand the society’s campus in Brownstown for a museum and pioneer village.

He also served as president of the Jackson County Cemetery Association, which was able to restore several cemeteries with volunteer help over the years.

Tatlock’s work with lining up bluegrass bands for Oktoberfest began a few years after the festival spread south of the CSX Railroad in 1994. In 2002, bluegrass bands were brought in to perform on the South Stage in an effort to attract more people to that end of the festival. Tatlock also helped establish an antiques and collectible market during the Oktoberfest.

In accepting his nomination, Tatlock wrote that everyone connected with Oktoberfest has been pleasant and easy to work with over the years.

“The appreciation by the public has made it a very satisfying dedication of my time and expense, and I am very thankful of the opportunity,” he said.

The parade is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, with staging at 11 a.m. along Community Drive in front of Seymour High School. All entries had to be preregistered, and no late entries were allowed due to the time it takes to get the parade organized, Tidd said.

Billed as one of the largest parades in southern Indiana, there will be nearly 90 entries this year, including high school marching bands, dance and gymnastics teams, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, floats, antique vehicles, local businesses, churches, horse groups, emergency response vehicles, local and state politicians and more.

“We wound up with 102 (units) last year, but I think some people probably missed the cutoff this year,” Tidd said.

Parade applications now are handled entirely online, and that likely is the reason some missed the deadline, she said.

“I’m still excited about the number we have this year,” Tidd said.

This year’s main sponsor of the parade is Schneck Medical Center.

The parade attracts thousands of people who line the route, which includes Second Street, Walnut Street and Fifth Street.

Parade trophies will be announced and presented at 5 p.m. on the North Stage at Third and Chestnut streets after the free These Fine Gentlemen concert and before the annual brat eating contest.

Tidd said her favorite part of the parade — getting to see and hear the marching bands, especially the Seymour High School Marching Owls — never changes. Marching bands from Brownstown Central, Shelbyville, Switzerland County and Trinity Lutheran high schools also will perform.

If you go

What: Seymour Oktoberfest parade

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Starts on Community Drive in front of Seymour High School, goes east on Second Street, then north on Walnut Street and west on Fifth Street back to Community Drive

This year’s grand marshal is Donald “D.L.” Tatlock.

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.