In this file photo from 2019, Create Buckhannon members Mike Cozad and Buck Edwards prepare chicken to sell to raise funds for Festival Fridays.

After a hiatus in 2020, Festival Fridays slated to be in full swing June 4 in Jawbone Park

BUCKHANNON – Festival Fridays will return to Jawbone Park June 4, ushering Buckhannon into summer.

Create Buckhannon President CJ Rylands said the group is excited to get back to Jawbone after missing the summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We may be a little rusty, but I think people are primed to get out and start enjoying each other’s company again, and that’s really the intention of Festival Fridays – to get the citizens out, face-to-face, talking because the opportunities for those interpersonal meetings have been reduced,” Rylands said. “We’ve aggregated schools in our county, where we used to have 50 in 1950 and now, we have nine, we’ve aggregated retail that we used to have a lot of country stores and other places where people gathered and those are diminished by big box retail.”

“The strength of any community is directly proportional to the strength of the connections between its citizens,” he added.

Rylands said the event kicks off at 5 p.m. and everyone is welcome to enjoy live music, food, a variety of vendors and the Buckhannon-Upshur Farmer’s Market.

“Bring a folding chair, find your spot, walk around, see the vendors, get something to eat and listen to live music in an outdoor space and talk to your neighbors,” Rylands said. “The farmers market is there also, so you can buy local produce, and we’re working on a Facebook market to connect the market to customers.”

Festival Fridays is also bringing back its popular chicken dinners, courtesy of Create Buckhannon.

“We just came up with the idea one day, looking for another way to generate revenue for Create Buckhannon, and we found this chicken cooker, and I thought well, ‘Why don’t we do this?’ So, we bought one,” Create Buckhannon member Buck Edwards said. “After the first couple cookouts, we realized we didn’t buy one big enough, so we sold that one and bought another one in the same year and it’s much larger and it just went gangbusters – it’s pretty popular.”

Edwards said the chicken is delicious, but the sides are also a big draw.

“I’m not trying to brag or anything, but that is undoubtedly the best $10 meal you’re going to get. The chicken is just superb, and that’s where I think a lot of people mess up – they put a lot of emphasis on the main dish, but they don’t focus on the sides,” Edwards said. “We make the best baked beans you’ve ever had in your life; we have a special recipe we use and we make them in the Opera House and then we just went to baked potatoes instead of cut up potatoes. They are really big and done really well.”

Create Buckhannon is taking pre-orders for June 4 chicken dinners, and you may reserve a dinner here. The featured musical guest is the Carpenter Ants, who will be playing R&B and gospel/soul music. Stay up-to-date with Festival Fridays happenings here.

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