(Posted June 14, 2018)
Richard and Nancy Matson are grand marshals of the 2018 London Strawberry Festival parade.
The Matsons moved from Mount Gilead to London in 2005 to be closer to their jobs at the Columbus Dispatch and the many family members already living in the London area. They have actively supported local businesses, schools, and fundraisers whenever possible.
They became involved with the London Strawberry Festival in 2007 while assisting two family members who were competing in the festival’s royalty contest. This was just the beginning. They went on to travel with the royalty court, support that has been integral to the program for many years. Well loved by the various queens, princesses and princes, they were known to most as “Uncle Richard and Aunt Nancy.” Many royalty honorees remain in touch with the Matsons for years after their reigns end.
Richard and Nancy made traveling with the royalty and improving the float their main priority. They took the court to many festivals throughout Ohio and into surrounding states. They met with professional float builders to learn how to design a float. They asked the royalty director for permission to decorate and redo facets of the Strawberry Festival float. The project was so successful, the royalty director didn’t recognize the float when it appeared at the Circleville Pumpkin Show for the first time after being redone. Frequently, the Matsons would customize the float in tribute to the themes of the various festivals. It often received top honors. The Matsons have even assisted other festivals with float improvements.
Richard and Nancy also have served as Strawberry Festival board members. They helped greatly with improvements made from 2005 to 2017, including the shortcake tent and addition of new activities.
Richard is now retired from the Columbus Dispatch after 25.5 years in the engineering maintenance department. When he retired in 2011, he was the maintenance facilities manager. Nancy worked at the Columbus Dispatch for 20 years in the advertising customer services department, leaving the company in March 2007 as advertising manager for customer services.
The couple enjoys visiting family, volunteering whenever possible, and taking care of their dog, Buttons Bowties. Richard enjoys building things, working on old cars and trucks, hunting and working in the yard. Nancy enjoys reading, keeping up with friends and family on Facebook, and traveling.
The Matsons met on the job and will be married 28 years this coming December. They have one son, Shane, daughter-in-law Heather, grandson Carter, and granddaughter Kylen.