BUCKHANNON – For those who have not joined in the Festival Fridays fun yet, why not?
Last Friday, My Buckhannon caught up with some of the Festival Friday attendees and asked them why they chose to spend their Fridays in Jawbone Park with their families and friends, and we learned there are a plethora of fun activities for the young — and the young-at-heart.
David Rowan of Buckhannon said he always attends Festival Fridays – but part of the reason is that he is an assistant coordinator of the Buckhannon VIPS, or Volunteers in Police Service, the Buckhannon Police Department’s volunteer wing. Rowan said he thinks folks flock to Festival Fridays because it gives them something to do to start out their weekend.
“I really enjoy getting to meet different people who attend Festival Fridays,” Rowan said. “I like listening to the different bands and talking to the vendors selling their wares. Tonight (June 24, 2022), the Lions Club is selling its taco salad. There are games for the younger kids and they really enjoy coming and having fun.”
Buckhannon resident Amy Dean came to Jawbone Park with two youngsters to enjoy the evening festivities. She said the previous Festival Friday was the first time they had come out.
“The kids had fun last week, and we decided to come back this week,” Dean said. “We listened to some great music and the children enjoyed playing some games and especially liked getting their faces painted.”
Dean said once they had taken in all that Festival Fridays had to offer, they went for ice cream at Sweet a Licious, and when asked if she thought Festival Fridays was wonderful, she and her kids said, ‘Absolutely!’
CJ Rylands, president and founding member of Create Buckhannon, was selling food at Festival FridaysJune 24. He shared that the intent of starting a Festival Fridays event was to create an environment where people can meet face-to-face for conversations, something that is sorely lacking in many communities today.
“Those things have diminished,” Rylands shared. “When I used to go shopping with my grandmother, we would go to the fruit market where we knew Mr. Guiseppi. He knew her and she knew him. Then we went to the butcher shop, and she knew the butcher and he knew her. Now, shopping is all aggregated into Walmart and big box stores. People do not have the opportunity to talk and make those connections.”
Rylands said he does not believe people engage in as many conversations face-to-face as they do on social media.
“People get to know the vendors here,” said Create Buckhannon member Buck Edwards. “The vendors know the customers.”
Rylands said usually Festival Fridays’ attendance is typically around 300 to 600 people but this Friday, July 1, the Create Buckhannon crew is expecting upwards of 1,500 folks.
“The attendance is affected by which bands are playing and what the weather is like,” Rylands said. “We like that people are getting out and enjoying the public space here at Jawbone Park. The more the space is used, the better it is taken care of.”
“What better way to have a sense of community than to bring people together to enjoy,” Edwards said. “This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Festival Fridays.”
Donnie Tenney, president of the Buckhannon-Upshur Farmers Market, said the farmers and growers set up and sell their produce and fruits at Festival Fridays because they love it.
“We love the camaraderie we have here,” Tenney said. “Jams, jellies, food, fruits, vegetables, flowers – we have it all to sell.”
Tenney said there are 12 vendors set up to sell, but they are not always all there each week.
“We hope folks come out and purchase our locally grown products,” Tenney said.
This Friday, July 1, Create Buckhannon is teaming up with the City of Buckhannon for the Independence Day Celebration at the Jawbone Park area. From 5 p.m. on, South Florida Street from Main Street to Madison Street will be closed during the celebration.
Events include vendors, children’s games, live music, farmer’s market vendors and chicken dinners for sale. Musical and entertainment include the Masons at 5 p.m.; All American Twirlers on S. Florida Street at 6 p.m.; Stonestreet at 6:30 p.m.; Elite Rivals on S. Florida Street at 8:30 p.m.; Gary Palumbo at 9 p.m.; and fireworks after dark. Inflatables will be available for the kids for $10 and a rock climbing wall for $5.
All are welcome, and the Create Buckhannon crew, along with the My Buckhannon team, hopes everyone will come out and join the fun — and possibly make some new friends — at Festival Fridays.