GREENVILLE — For more than 30 years Roger and Linda Coles have had a hand in organizing, volunteering and managing the Danish Festival.
Linda’s efforts tend to be behind the scenes, serving at different booths, cooking for the open-air breakfast or serving on the festival board.
Roger, on the other hand, is the Danish Festival Marching Band drum major and is a little more front and center.
But the efforts of both, who have offered a helping hand in just about every aspect of the festival for the last three decades, have not gone unnoticed.
While they will still be in working mode come festival time, the Coleses will have a bit of a different role for this year’s Danish Festival.
Roger and Linda were selected as the festival’s grand marshals for this year, which marks the 50th anniversary for the hometown festival.
“We were shocked, surprised and honored,” Linda said. “It’s a big year.”
“We are extremely honored and deeply humbled,” Roger said. “We accept this on behalf of all the 49 marshals before us and all those after us.”
Linda and Roger were nominated by their son, Gregory Schink, who wrote in his letter that “throughout the many years Roger and Linda have lived in Greenville, I think one would be hard pressed to find an event they did not participate in at one time or another.”
Roger served on the board for the early 1980s, even serving as vice president, and Linda for several years in the late 1980s. Roger has served in the marching band for 30 years and Linda has staffed many different booths and helped organize countless events. The two have volunteered at the event each and every year.
Schink went on to write that growing up, the Danish Festival was always a part of the family’s lives.
“Since I was a child, they were constantly serving on committees to help plan the next year’s events and encouraging the participation of me and my brother, and now his children, in events such as the fairytale parade,” he wrote in his nomination.
And the love of the festival has stuck with the couple’s children, and now grandchildren. Each year the family, and a large group of friends, meet at the Coles’ home to attend as many of the festival’s events as they can.
“It’s just one of those weekends everybody drops in and we get to see everyone,” Linda said.
And the event is more than something that brings family’s together, Roger said, it’s something the entire Greenville area embraces.
When asked what the festival mean to him, Roger said, “I think it’s bringing the community together and the friendships that are renewed,” he said, noting it is the most popular weekend for class reunions as well.
As the festival, scheduled for August 14-17, enters its 50th year, it has evolved greatly since its inception. There are both long-standing traditions and fresh events and both Linda and Roger credited all of those who dedicated time and effort to the festival for its continued success.
“We have to commend the board and the boards over the years for adding things and keeping things going,” Roger said. “Fifty years is a long time.”
The Coleses will be honored at a grand marshal celebration scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Aug. 15 at the Flat River Musuem.
And as the Grand Dansk Parade hits the pavement at 11 a.m., Aug. 16, instead of at his typical position at the front of the band and her regular spot with the Greenville Public Schools, Roger and Linda will instead be parked in the back seat of a car with an emblem on the side that reads Danish Festival Grand Marshals.