By LEAH TATE
The city of Charlestown opened its doors and arms on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as its residents celebrated faith, family and friends during the 13th annual Founder’s Day.
The 13th year for the Founder’s Day festival has become a lucky one for the Charlestown Beautification Committee, which sponsors Founder’s Day. Donna Coomer, committee co-chair and the city’s clerk treasurer, said along with the increase in attendees, booths and amusement rides — despite the previous ride vendor backing out in May — the event has also increased from a two-day affair to three.
“We added Thursday to provide the opportunity for local residents to showcase their talent,” Coomer said.
Coomer said while this year there were more singing performances, next year the committee wants to open it up to all talent acts.
Additionally, Coomer said there was an increase in participants for the Founder’s Day 5K Run/Walk Saturday morning, with about 250 people treading the area around the town square. Coomer said she attributes the increase to more flat surfaces, whereas the ground was a bit bumpier and hillier at the previous venue in Charlestown State Park.
Coomer said about 100 volunteers on the Beautification Committee work year-round planning for the event, but believes it is worth it when she sees the fruits of their labor.
“This is the biggest event our committee sponsors and the second largest for the city, aside from Light up Charlestown,” Coomer said. “It’s such a great event for our city and that’s why we themed this year’s Founder’s Day as Faith, Family and Friends … I think that’s what we have here.”
The city square bustled with residents and visitors on Friday and Saturday as they browsed through 55 art and craft booths and listened to local bands like Blaise Streets and the Endless Summer Band on the main stage. Residents and guests pitched camp chairs under the shade in the town square to catch a breeze while sharing conversations with family and catching up with old friends. A train made of a converted baggage tug caught the eye of many guests as it carried passengers along the town square and side streets. Across the street from the town square, Greenway Park attracted a more youthful crowd as about fifteen carnival rides caught the eye of amusement enthusiasts.
For other residents, Founder’s Day is a way to introduce their business.
Lazondra Davis, Chalestown resident and owner of Zondy’s Smelly Gelly’s, said she worked for two days straight cooking and creating about 88 gel candles in hopes of selling a few at Founder’s Day. Davis said since she doesn’t have a website yet for her at-home business, festivals and word of mouth are her only form of business.
By Saturday evening, Davis said sales whittled down her merchandise to only a few left.
“Not only does my business get recognition at festivals like Founder’s Day, I get to see old friends and meet new ones” Davis said.
Other Founder’s Day events included the Founder’s Day Parade, two-on-two basketball, a Backyard Classic Car Show, a cake walk, a Hula Hoop and Bubble Gum Contest and a Prince and Princess Pageant. The honorary Founder’s Day 2013 Queen crown was awarded to Charlestown High School senior Marissa Knebel, 18, who is also a volunteer on the Charlestown Beautification Committee. Rhys Duncan, 6, was chosen as this year’s 2013 Founder’s Day prince and Kaliegh Hagan, 6, was selected as the 2013 Founder’s Day princess.
The three-day Founder’s Day festival concluded with a firework display over Greenway Park on Saturday evening.