Hailing from the same community doesn’t guarantee people will stay in touch.
Seventeen years ago, a group of Jeffersonville residents from the Claysburg neighborhood decided that chance reunions with their friends and fellow community members weren’t enough.
“Folks realized about the only times we had a chance to see each other was at weddings and funerals, so we decided, why not do something different?” said Gary Leavell, chairman of the Claysburg Reunion Committee.
Last weekend, the 17th annual Claysburg Heritage Days festival was held at Henry Lansden Park. It kicked off with a youth night on Friday, followed by family picnic day on Saturday and gospel singing on Sunday.
Saturday’s festivities are typically the busiest of the weekend, as Leavell said it’s not uncommon for 500 people to attend the picnic and dance.
Committee treasurer Claude Morris said he seems to always bump into somebody that he hasn’t seen in years.
“It’s good for the community for people to get back together,” he said.
Vendors set up booths, children’s activities are staged and musical groups perform during the festival.
When a band wasn’t playing, participants were treated to music from deejay Ricky Cooper, who has performed at Claysburg Heritage Days since its inception.
Proceeds from the event are used to foot expenses for the next year’s festival, and Leavell said Heritage Days has showed no signs of slowing down.
“It’s grown leaps and bounds every year. It keeps getting bigger and bigger,” he said.
Beyond entertainment, the festival also provides the opportunity to educate youth about the history of the community, Leavell continued.
He credited the city of Jeffersonville for supporting the festival, and for the people who have helped organize it for the better part of two decades.
“This has been a community effort made up of volunteers,” Leavell said.