Cynthiana celebrated its Sixth Annual Raggedy Ann Festival on April 16th, 2008.
Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls have been collected, adored and treasured for generations.
R.B. Gruelle was born on February 22, 1851 in Cynthiana, Kentucky. He later moved to Arcola, Illinois, where his son Johnny was born, December 24, 1880. Johnny Gruelle grew up to become a well known political cartoonist, illustrator and artist. Around 1908 he began producing features for children. Gruelle created the Raggedy Ann doll in 1915 and he published the first stories in 1918.
When Johnny's daughter, Marcella, became ill and was bedridden, he spent many hours telling stories to entertain her. She died at the age of thirteen, but the stories which were based on Marcella's own dolls became the genesis for Johnny's illustrations and children's books. There are several accounts regarding the origin of the first Raggedy Ann doll. Most believe the first Raggedy Ann was an old handmade rag doll made in Illinois many years before for Johnny Gruelle's mother. The doll was found years later in the attic and after some repairs, it became a new playmate for Marcella.
The festival will feature Raggedy Ann History, Stories and Drawings by Joni Gruelle Wannamaker, Johnny Gruelle's granddaughter and artist. Joni now lives in Arcola, Illinois, where she and her husband, Tom, administer the Johnny Gruelle Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum.
In American Profile, Joni stated "Many people have told me Raggedy Ann has been their best friend through the years. She's always there for a hug or a smile (Editions: 12.17.00-12.23.00)."