Time for the Little Town to Host the BIG Event!

The Jefferson Township Ruritan was formed in 1957 as a community service organization by a group of men who wanted to see the community prosper and have more community-related activities. The first 4th of July celebration took place on the current site where, at the time, the Otwell Elementary/Junior-Senior High School was located.

Some of you may ask, “What’s a Ruritan?” Actually, the word was coined by a reporter for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot newspaper; the word is a combination of the Latin words for open country “ruri” and small town “tan,” interpreted as pertaining to rural and small town life. That’s us!

An annual event attended by not only the locals but those from out of county and out of state, the 4th of July Celebration in Otwell is a perennial and sentimental favorite place to be for many a generation. Many of us can reminisce about our first parades, our first trip on the ferris wheel, our first time that we could independently roam the grounds with our buddies…all those great rites of passage while we were growing up in a small town. Great memories indeed!

The Ruritan Club’s primary fund-raiser is the Fourth of July celebration. It’s been a successful 59 year run, despite storms, blazing hot temperatures, and all other things that Mother Nature brings to us in Southern Indiana in July. The festival has grown exponentially from its roots and continues to grow. Money raised at this event is used for scholarships, supporting various school activities, making community improvements, and bringing about a general sense of pride for the entire community.

Otwell is a small town with a big heart; the townspeople have worked together over the years to form the Ruritan, the Community Center, the volunteer Fire Department, and a branch Library. From these organizations have come a large storm shelter to protect its citizens in times of bad weather, a first-class community kitchen at the Community Center that has been host to many a celebratory dinner for newly-married couples, couples celebrating milestone anniversaries, families gathering together to honor a loved one who has passed, and, of course, the annual 4th of July dinners. As Thomas Gray used to say, “It’s dinner time and dinner’s ready!”


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