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Manchester celebrates 225 years with River Days fun in the village

Festival offers flip-side fun for kids with must-do ROCK recreation –

By Patricia Beech –

Royalty was crowned last Thursday night for the 2016 Manchester River Days celebration.  From left, 2016 River Days Queen Gabi Lainhart, First Runner-Up Kayle Thomas, Second Runner-Up Miranda Schiltz, and Third Runner-Up Miranda Jackson.  Photo by Patricia Beech
Royalty was crowned last Thursday night for the 2016 Manchester River Days celebration. From left, 2016 River Days Queen Gabi Lainhart, First Runner-Up Kayle Thomas, Second Runner-Up Miranda Schiltz, and Third Runner-Up Miranda Jackson. Photo by Patricia Beech

Rain and shine, Manchester festival-goers made their way to the  village parks on Front Street last weekend  to celebrate the town’s  225th anniversary at the 2016 River Days.
Even though the weather didn’t always work in their favor,  Manchester’s faithful braved the off-and-on rain showers that kept some visitors away.
“We had a low count Friday because of the rain,” said festival  organizer JoAnn Hilderbrand. “But Saturday we had 1,500 people come  out for the activities and fireworks. Everybody seemed to have a great time.”
The festivities began Thursday evening with the crowning of the  River Days Queen and her court. Gabi Lainhart was crowned Queen of the festival,  Kayle Thomas won  First Runner-Up, Second Runner-Up went to Miranda Schiltz, and the  Third Runner-Up was Miranda Jackson.
T   he pageantry continued with the selection of River Days Little Miss,  Little Mr. and Jr. Miss. Marjorie Ruth Insko was crowned the  festival’s Little Miss,  Zaylee McClanahan won First Runner-Up, and   Karlee Collins was named Second Runner-Up. In the Junior Miss  competition, Miss Emma Nehus won the crown and and and Serenity Fisher  was First Runner-Up.
A 5K Run and Baby Show kicked off a full slate of  activities on Saturday including a recreational and activity area for  kids sponsored by Manchester’s ROCK organization.

These two young men battled to the end in Saturday night’s Power Wheels Derby, with both being declared as first-place winners in the competition.  Photo by Mark Carpenter
These two young men battled to the end in Saturday night’s Power Wheels Derby, with both being declared as first-place winners in the competition. Photo by Mark Carpenter

“ROCK’s first River Days was a success,” said ROCK founder Michael Reno.  “Manchester kids have always been well behaved at our events and that makes it such a pleasure for us to work with them. We  had a good turnout for our Spelling Bee, Talent Show and Watermelon  Eating Contest, but our main attractions were the huge inflatables  which included a large water slide.”
“I was really pleased to see ROCK so heavily involved in River  Days,” said Manchester village Councilman C.L. Skip Wagner. “What they provided for the  children was an amazing service.”
According to Manchester Village Clerk Rae Ann Wilson-Insko, donations from the River Days committee and local businesses and  organizations made it possible for ROCK to provide the large  inflatables which replaced the usual carnival rides.     “In recent years  carnival rides haven’t been very profitable for River Days so we  thought we’d ask ROCK to step in and provide activities for the kids,”  said Wilson-Insko.

A different kind of race headed down 2nd Street in Manchester on Saturday evening, this one appropriately called “The Toilet Bowl Race.”  Photo by Michelle Bilyeu
A different kind of race headed down 2nd Street in Manchester on Saturday evening, this one appropriately called “The Toilet Bowl Race.” Photo by Michelle Bilyeu

Reno praised the committee’s efforts to provide an area  exclusively for the children and said ROCK plans to be more involved  with the planning in coming years. “They really did a great job,” he  said. “We don’t judge the success of our events by attendance, we  judge it by the amount of smiles we see throughout the day, and the  committee was very helpful with that.”
The festival concluded Saturday night with a fireworks display  at River Front Park.
“We owe a special thanks to the Manchester Fire Department, the  volunteers, and those who donated to ensure that the fireworks display  would be as good as ever,” said Councilman Wagner. “It is one of the  best displays in all the county.”

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2016 People's Defender