FOLLANSBEE - Visitors to Follansbee Community Days this year will find more food and craft vendors than in the past, a variety of live musical entertainment and a place where their children can swim or play and they can sit down and cool off, say the festival's organizers.
That's because the annual event, set for July 13-15, is moving to the large parking lot between Follansbee Park and the Follansbee Community House.
Nina Meca, who co-chairs the festival with Tom Ludewig, said the Community Days stage will be set up near the softball field and face the Community House, while food and craft vendors will line both sides of the lot.
Ludewig said interest from vendors has been strong. He has had to turn away vendors, he said, and not because of limited space because there already are more vendors slated to participate than in previous years.
He noted the close proximity to the park and its swimming pool will give the children of festival-goers more to do. The park also includes a playground, basketball court, skateboarding park and walking trail.
Ludewig added the lot will allow for more seating for the entertainment.
The following is a schedule for entertainment and activities during Follansbee Community Days.
9 a.m. - Community prayer breakfast at Follansbee Community House.
9 a.m. - Follansbee Community Days Derby on Mark Avenue.
Noon - Free hot dogs, drinks and swimming begins at Follansbee Park.
12:30 p.m. - Music by Deja Vu.
2:30 p.m. - Sounds of Dean Dean Martin tribute show.
2:30 p.m. - Registration for bocce tournament.
3 p.m. - Bocce tournament.
4 p.m. - The Lite Touch featuring Jack Giacomel.
5 p.m. - Doors will open at Follansbee Community Days Dinner, with dinner to be served at 6 p.m. at St. Francis Center.
7 p.m. - Music by Night Life.
8:45 p.m. - Music by Phil Dirt and the Dozers.
8 a.m. - Registration for Mayor's 5K Race.
9 a.m. - Mayor's 5K Race on Virginia Avenue.
1 p.m. - Parade on state Route 2.
5 p.m. - Music by the Driftin' Hoopie Experience.
7 p.m. - The Original Fantasys.
9:15 p.m. - Charle Thomas' Drifters.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Registration for classic car show.
Noon to 4 p.m. - Classic car show at Lyle's Auto Sales.
6:30 p.m. - Music by the Four Townsmen.
8:30 p.m. - Shout: The Legends of Soul.
"I think it will be better. It's more open. There's more room for seats. We won't have the narrow street for them and the stage like we had before," he said.
Meca said bleachers will be set up, as in the past, but attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs since turnout for each night's musical guests always has been large.
Organized by committee member Don Layburn, the festival's many performers will include the Drifters and the Four Townsmen; and Shout: Legends of Soul.
The Drifters' many hits include "There Goes My Baby," "Up on the Roof" and "Under the Boardwalk," while the Four Townsmen, who hail from Canonsburg, Pa., recorded the hits "Sometimes (When I'm All Alone)" and "It Wasn't So Long Before (Graduation is Here)."
With the cooperation of the Brooke County Board of Education, school buses will provide rides to the festival from the Blue Wave football field at the city's north end and designated corners along Main Street.
The festival again will include the Mayor's 5K Race beginning on Virginia Avenue at 9 a.m., with registration at 8 a.m., July 14; Community Days Parade on Main Street (state Route 2) at 1 p.m. July 14, with Gerald "Peck" Blakely, a 96-year-old World War II veteran serving as parade marshal; a classic car show from noon to 4 p.m. July 15 at Lyle's Auto Sales, across from the park's entrance; and a fireworks display following Shout: Legends of Soul's performance on July 15.
The fireworks will be set off in an area behind Lyle's Auto Sales and Sheetz.
Lyle's Auto Sales is sponsoring the car show, with proceeds from the registration of cars and sale of food going to the Children's Diabetes Research program. Registration will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the cost is $5 per vehicle. There will be 11 trophies and dash plaques.
The Community House will host a community prayer breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at the door.
And the Follansbee Community Days Kickoff in the Park will be held July 8, with a Soapbox Derby-style race added to the festivities at 9 a.m. on Mark Avenue. The race is being coordinated by Fred Marino, who also is reviving Wellsburg's Oil Can Derby with the help of the Wellsburg 4th of July Committee. The course will run along Mark Avenue from an area near the park's upper picnic shelter and end near the Follansbee Middle School football field.
Anyone interested in participating should call Marino at (304) 737-2271. It's open to boys and girls, ages 8-15, with two divisions: stock, for a car and driver together weighing 210 pounds, and super stock, for a car and driver weighing 225 pounds.
The cost is $20, and trophies will be awarded.
The kickoff also will include free hot dogs and drinks beginning at noon; games for children starting at 3 p.m.; and music by Deja Vu at 12:30 p.m.; Sounds of Dean (a tribute to Dean Martin) at 2:30 p.m.; a bocce tournament at 3 p.m., with registration at 2:30 p.m.; and the Lite Touch featuring the music of Jack Giacomel at 4 p.m.
Set for July 11, the Follansbee Community Days Dinner also is moving to St. Francis Center on Lee Road, in anticipation of higher turnout for guest speaker Oliver Luck, West Virginia University's athletic director.
The dinner has provided an opportunity to recognize past and present citizens for outstanding accomplishments or service to the community. And this year past and present Brooke High School cheerleaders will receive special recognition.
Tickets for the dinner are $20 and may be purchased at the Follansbee City Building until Friday.
The move to the park was suggested by residents of Virginia Avenue, where the festival had been held for many years. Some cited the disruption caused by closing the residential area to traffic, forcing them to park away from their homes, while others cited noise and trespassing and property damage by some festival-goers.
With the move approved by Follansbee City Council, Ludewig and other members of the Community Days Committee set out to make the best use of the site.
"Moving it to the park will be so much better," Layburn said, but he asked festival-goers to be patient as the committee finds ways to improve upon it for next year.
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