Franklin County celebrates 200th birthday

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 5, 2010

MEADVILLE — It’s not every day a county turns 200, and Franklin County residents plan to make sure this weekend is a memorable three-day birthday celebration.

The county’s official bicentennial was in December, but organizers decided to wait until March so outdoor conditions would improve, Bicentennial Committee Contact Person Jill Gilbert said.

“We decided to wait for the weather, basically,” she said. “We just knew people would get out more in the spring than they would in the winter.”

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The celebrations will begin at 4 p.m. today in downtown Roxie with games for children age 12 and younger.

“We are going to have a children’s Olympics, fun games and things like that,” Gilbert said.

The opening ceremonies, slated for 6 p.m., will feature the Franklin High School Junior ROTC, the Franklin High School Band, an elementary choir and a talent show.

The Town of Roxie and the Bicentennial Committee will provide hot dogs, soft drinks and a fireworks show.

Saturday, the festivities will shift to Meadville and Bude, including a parade that will travel from Meadville to Bude at 10 a.m.

The parade will start at Franklin High School, and Gilbert said anyone who wants can join in, but they have to be at the high school at 9 a.m.

Activities in both Meadville and Bude will be ongoing all day.

The Meadville activities include a two-mile fun run, a health fair, craftsmen demonstrations, an American Indian artifacts display, an antique farm equipment display, an old-time bake off, an antique quilt display, a pet show, live entertainment, among other activities.

Most of the events are free, except for the bake-off, Gilbert said.

“You have to buy tickets and you taste test and vote on which (entry) is best in the bake-off,” she said.

Starting at 4 p.m., the band High Road, followed by Band of Brothers and The Juvenators, will take the Bicentennial Stage and lead a street dance.

While the events are going on in Meadville, in Bude the festivities will include a flea market and craft show, an antique car and motorcycle show, motorcycle skill games, the Dixie Youth-Little League Reunion and Old Timer’s Tournament and a mule pull, among other events.

The mule pull will feature 20 mule teams, and will be considered a sanctioned mule-pulling event, Gilbert said.

“They put some type of weights on these teams of mules, and they try to pull them,” she said.

The events will wrap up starting at 10:30 a.m. Sunday in Meadville at the high school auditorium, where a bicentennial worship service will be conducted.

The service will feature congregational singing, a performance by a specially organized mass choir and Tom Lester — known for playing the character “Eb” on the television show “Green Acres” — will deliver an inspirational message.

“Tom Lester is a pretty dynamic Christian speaker, he is very good,” Gilbert said.

Following the service, the community will have dinner on the grounds, and gospel music performances will continue into the afternoon.

Community members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and their favorite covered dish to the dinner.