River town celebrating its 225th anniversary –
By Patricia Beech –
Manchester is gearing up and pulling out all the stops for its 2016 River Days celebration.
This weekend’s festival will coincide with the town’s 225th anniversary.
The village, founded in 1791 by Nathaniel Massie, was named for his ancestral home in England.
The festivities will be held Aug. 4-6 at River Front Park and Veterans Park on East Front Street, and at the Community Building on Pike Avenue.
“We expect this year’s River Days to be very busy,” said Rae Ann Wilson-Insko,one of the event organizers. “It’s also the town’s 225th anniversary, and we have a lot of activities planned, so we’re hoping for a big turnout.”
Festival organizers are serving up a full slate of entertainment that offers something for everyone.
“Brian Napier managed the scheduling for the festival,” said Wilson-Insko. “It was a big job and we appreciate the work he did coordinating all the events.”
Thursday evening the crowning of the 2016 River Days Queen and her court will follow the opening ceremony at Veterans Park, while the Little Miss and Mr. contest will be held at the Community Building.
Friday’s events begin at 4 p.m. at River Front Park with a watermelon contest, a 25 cent auction, tug-o-war, bingo, fishing tournament, and a lawn mower derby. Singers from local churches will provide gospel music from 5-9 p.m. at Veterans Park.
Saturday kicks off early at River Front Park with a 5K race at 8 a.m., and a car show at 9 a.m. followed by the Garden Tractor Pull at 2 p.m., the Cornhole Tournament at 5 p.m., and at 5:30 the Toilet Bowl Race on 2nd Street which Wilson-Insko says “should be memorable”.
Michelle Bilyeu of Manchester is the contact person for entry into the Toilet Bowl Race and she is pleased with the overall celebration.
“I’m so pleased with our schedule this year,” said Bilyeu. “Some events that we look forward to every year and some new ones that we hope become just as popular for our future River Days celebrations.”
Veterans Park will serve as the venue for the Baby Show at 9 a.m. Saturday. It will be followed by a Spelling Bee, a Pet Show, a Talent Show, and a Lip-Syncing Competition. The Rejoice Cloggers will perform at 3 p.m.
R.O.C.K. Zone will offer a full range of activities and recreational games for kids at 11 a.m., as well as refreshments – at no cost.
“We decided not to have carnival rides this year because they haven’t been profitable for the festival the past few years,” said Wilson-Insko. “The folks with R.O.C.K. are going to be providing entertainment for the kids. We gave them their own area in Veterans Park where they could set up a water slide and several other activities like those they provide in their weekend programs.”
Performances by four local bands: Leis, Patterson & Friends, Mostly Mosley, Honey Hush, and the LAC Band at Veterans Park begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday and will be followed by a fireworks display at Riverfront Park at 10 p.m. that caps off the celebration on the river.