By C.V. Moore
Fayetteville’s 4th of July Celebration gets back to basics this year, with old-time family fun that harkens back to the festival’s roots in the 1950s.
Back then, residents would have enjoyed some of the same games as will be featured downtown this Thursday — a three-legged race, sack race, hula hoop contest, watermelon seed spitting contest, water balloon toss and frog jumping contest.
This year, the day’s fun is sponsored by the Fayetteville Lions Club, which swooped in and saved the festival at the last minute after the Town of Fayetteville stepped back from its organizing role.
“I was really proud of the guys when they stepped up and said they would do it,” said Sally Kiner of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I want to give some big kudos to the Lions Club, because this is a big leap for them.”
The event, which began in 1951 as Fayetteville’s Fourth of July, had grown to span seven days last year and was known as the New River Gorge Heritage Festival.
The many days of events were simply too much for the town’s volunteer base, said Kiner.
The Lions Club decided to scale back and offer a one-day event, which includes old-fashioned games, inflatables, vendors, a fireworks show and live music by Six Miles Out.
“They wanted to take it on, but they wanted to do it their way,” said Kiner. “They wanted to get back to a much more simple, family fun kind of activity, and they wanted to just celebrate that day.”
Several events sponsored by other organizations Friday and Saturday round out the weekend’s offerings.
On Friday, in conjunction with the 4th of July Celebration, merchants and residents will celebrate Local Business Appreciation Day with free hot dogs, drinks, music, and family fun. The event starts at 5 p.m. in the field behind Musical Grounds European Coffeehouse at 129 Court St.
“This is our way of giving back to the community,” said local business owner Joe Dangerfield. “We are saying ‘thank you’ to the community that supports the businesses in town.”
The event is sponsored by Ben Franklin Store,
Fayetteville’s 4th of July Schedule of Events
-- 11 a.m. — Patriotic parade (downtown)
-- 1 to 8:30 p.m. — Court Street activities (downtown)
-- 6 p.m. — GFWC Fayetteville Junior Woman’s Club Citizen of the Year (downtown)
-- 6 to 8:30 p.m. — Live music: Six Miles Out (downtown)
-- 9:30 p.m. — Fireworks (Town Park)
-- 5 p.m. (Local Business Appreciation Day) — Free hot dogs, drinks, and music (the field behind Musical Grounds Coffeehouse at 129 Court St.)
-- 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Market Day in Fayetteville (Fayetteville CVB, Court Street)
-- 10 a.m. — Come on Home Reunion (American Legion, Maple Avenue)
-- 7 p.m. — Jon Kemper’s Band (Historic Fayette Theater)