Franklin County bicentennial bash set for weekend

Published 7:53 pm Thursday, March 4, 2010

Franklin County’s 200th birthday was commemorated on Dec. 21,but the after party doesn’t start until this weekend.

The biggest buzz the county has ever seen begins Friday in Roxieand will continue through the weekend, moving from town-to-town tocelebrate the bicentennial with song and dance, food and drink, andeven mules and motorcycles. The countywide celebration is expectedto draw thousands to its three-day mix of arts, crafts, history andfun.

“It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever been involved in for sure,” saidDebbra Halford, Franklin County chancery judge and bicentennialevents organizer. “It will put the exclamation point on theoccasion.”

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Though Franklin County began on Dec. 21, 1809, the bicentennialcommittee opted not to risk their extravaganza to crummy winterweather and held out for early March. With near-perfect weatherforecast for the weekend and almost 30 hours of free-admissionfestival time planned for the county’s three towns – Roxie,Meadville and Bude – the decision stands to pay off.

Roxie’s piece of the party starts at 4 p.m. Friday and will lastuntil 10 p.m. or later.

The evening will start with Bicentennial Olympics, a mix of sack,wheelbarrow and one-legged races and other events for children age4-12. Franklin County High School’s band, choir and JROTC willperform a patriotic opening ceremony at 6 p.m., paving the way forlocal officials to speak on the event and Roxie-born attorney MaxGraves, Jr., to give the town and county histories.

The YZ Ealey Band will perform soulful, Southern rhythm and bluesbeginning at 7:30 p.m., and the event will be capped off with afireworks show at 9:30 p.m. Food will be served for free, andFranklin County’s own cookbooks, history books, T-shirts andposters will be for sale.

Everyone can stay late for the fireworks show, but local fishermenwill have to turn in early that night to rest up for Saturday’sBass Bash fishing tournament at Lake Okhissa.

The tournament starts at safe first light with weigh-in scheduledfor 3 p.m. The entry fee is $110 per team, and all fees will bedistributed back out as prize money to the winners. Interestedfishermen may call 601-384-6979 or 601-384-7408 to sign up.

While the fishers fish, the bicentennial celebration will continuein Meadville at 7:30 a.m. with a 2K Fun Run and a 1K children’scostumed Fun Run. A parade consisting of church and civic groups,floats, classic cars, farm equipment and basically whoever wants toparticipate will form up around 9 a.m. and depart for the BudeFairgrounds at 10 a.m.

A health fair, demonstrations, bake-off, tours and open houses ofmany public buildings and churches, art show, fish fry, pet showand hours of live entertainment begin at 9 a.m. in Meadville and goon throughout the day. The town’s bicentennial program begins at 3p.m. and the bicentennial concerts and street dance begin at 4p.m.

Precise schedules can be picked up at the Franklin County Museum atthe corner of Main and Walnut streets in Meadville.

Those who want to see it all will have to cross Highway 84 multipletimes Saturday because Bude’s activities run concurrent withMeadville’s. When the parade arrives in Bude, the classic cars andmotorcycles participating will peel off to the health departmentparking lot for an antique car and motorcycle show, withmotorcyclists performing tricks beginning at noon.

A display of law enforcement and emergency vehicles will also beginafter the parade, an old time flea market and craft show andseveral open houses begin at 10 a.m. and the mule pull starts at 1p.m. Most Bude exhibitions end at 4 p.m., giving festival attendeestime to head back to Meadville to cut a rug on the downtownstreets.

The wildness of the celebration will ease Sunday when the weekendcloses down with a Christian celebration at Franklin County HighSchool. A worship service begins there at 10 a.m., followed bydinner on the grounds and a gospel singing at 2 p.m. Several actsare scheduled to perform.

Overall, the weekend should offer a little something for everyone,Halford said.

“How many places can you take your family, your little kids, andhave something they might never have seen, never hear?” she said.”This is a chance to prove you don’t have to go to New York City tofind some really neat things. It’s right here.”