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The Stoplight Festival

In to the Wind

July 5, 2012
By Mike Gilchrist , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The date for the third annual Toledo Stoplight Festival is rapidly approaching. On July 6, 2012, beginning at 4:30 p.m., a night of music and merriment will begin. The festival will be held on the Tama County Courthouse square in downtown Toledo. It should be noted the Toledo fireworks will not be on festival night this year, but on the 4th. Festival hours have been extended to 11 p.m. this year.

A committee of dedicated volunteers has been attending to details regarding the festival, and an evening of stellar entertainment is planned.

The festival is held in conjunction with the Toledo Farmers Market. Fresh produce and baked goods will be offered for sale on the square.

Article Photos

The annual Tama-Toledo Chamber Barbeque Cook Off will be a highlight of the festival. Early festival attendees will be able to sample and vote on the best barbeque in the area.

This year, four bands will take the stage on the bandstand at the east side of the square.

Barefoot Becky

Dave Moore

Inner Lite

Dogs on Skis

At the north end of the square, the Toledo Firemen will operate their always popular water fight, where kids can compete to push a barrel down a cable with a fire hose.

A slide and other activites are also planned/

Some might be asking why we celebrate a stoplight?

It seems like every time the stoplight in downtown Toledo is mentioned, everyone has an opinion.

A stoplight poking out of a concrete base situated in the middle of a downtown intersection causes people to pause, and notice.

A few years ago, the mechanism which controls the light quit working. Then, after stop signs were attached to the base, one of the lights, which had been blinking quit working. New parts were ordered and installed to bring the light back to life. However, there is a modern twist. The incandescent lights have been replaced with Light Emitting Diode (LED) arrays. The LEDs consume far less electricity, and will last many millions of light cycles; perhaps even tens of millions.

During the early 80s, the stoplight quit working. At that time the city discussed removing the stoplight. A petition was circulated and signed by over 200 citizens. The city council decided to keep the light. The bill to replace the switching mechanism was around $5,000.00. Coincidentally, the bill for the most recent repairs was about the same.

To place the stoplight in an historical perspective, here is the original announcement regarding the placement of the light.


Toledo Chronicle Thursday, October 13, 1949

New Traffic Signal At Intersection of High and Broadway

Toledo's new stop sign will go into operation this week. Located in the middle of the intersection of Broadway and High Street, it will have the customary red (stop), green (go), and yellow warning system. Turns will be made to the inside of the sign.

The sign was put in Wednesday and Thursday with Bill Turrett doing the cement work and Mike Striley doing the electrical work.


When Toledo was a one stoplight town, the little stoplight in the middle of the intersection downtown became a quaint little landmark. Not many towns sport such an apparatus in the middle of their downtown. Both Manchester and Anamosa have Post Office drop boxes in the middle of busy intersections, but most towns the size of Toledo don't even have a stoplight, much less a controversial landmark stoplight.

What was wrought in 1949 will be sixty-three years old in 2012.

If Traer can have a "Winding Staircase Festival," Why can't Toledo have a "Toledo Stoplight Festival?" The idea is just "corny" enough to fly.

Until next time --

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on

the "Local Columns" button at the bottom of the page.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2005 - 2012 Mike Gilchrist.

Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write

to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.



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