Crowd eats up the fun at Harrisville Heritage Days

Jul 30 2011 - 10:31pm

Images

(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner)
Wyatt Nelson, 7, chows down during the watermelon-eating contest Saturday at Harrisville’s Heritage Days.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) Marcie Janzen smiles as she makes balloon animals during the annual Heritage Days celebration Saturday at Harrisville City Park.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) Harrisville Mayor Richard Hendrix checks out his face painting during Heritage Days on Saturday.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) A mannequin accompanies a car during the annual Heritage Days celebration’s classic car show on Saturday in Harrisville.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner)
Wyatt Nelson, 7, chows down during the watermelon-eating contest Saturday at Harrisville’s Heritage Days.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) Marcie Janzen smiles as she makes balloon animals during the annual Heritage Days celebration Saturday at Harrisville City Park.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) Harrisville Mayor Richard Hendrix checks out his face painting during Heritage Days on Saturday.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) A mannequin accompanies a car during the annual Heritage Days celebration’s classic car show on Saturday in Harrisville.

HARRISVILLE -- Folks of all ages spent a jam-packed day eating watermelon, playing bingo, pretending to be pigs, looking at classic cars and then wrapping it all up by watching fireworks, all as part of Harrisville's annual Heritage Days festivities.

Music blared on the loudspeaker as the crowd cheered on five children wearing pig noses and goggles as they sniffed through a "pig trough" filled with watermelon rinds, corn husks and hot dogs as part of the Fear Factor/Minute to Win It contests.

"That is one of our biggest and most popular events," said Sue Russell, who has organized Heritage Days as a volunteer since 2000 and has volunteered for the last 18 years.

Heritage Days has been celebrated in the city for the last 22 years.

Russell was thrilled with the number of people at the event this year.

"Since this is a community filled with families, we try to make it affordable," she said, pointing out all of the free events around the park, including bingo, eating watermelon and hunting through sawdust for candy.

"If you can believe, the sawdust is one of our most popular activities," she said with a huge smile. "You can look over there and see up to 50 kids at a time."

Russell is impressed with the community support for the event year after year.

The city budgets some money for Heritage Days, but a lot of the money comes from business sponsorships, both in and out of Harrisville.

About 75 people volunteered this year. Russell said a committee of about nine or 10 starts working in January, with other volunteers asked to help out an hour here and there throughout the day of the event.

Russell said planning for next year's event will start right away because it will be the city's 50th anniversary.

Barbara Christensen has lived in Harrisville for 45 years, and her family has been coming to Heritage Days since it started.

"It's just a tradition," she said as she and her husband sat in chairs under a tree, where it was cool. "We enjoy seeing old friends and spending time with grandkids."

Some of her grandchildren live in Harrisville, but it's tradition for them to come to Heritage Days every year.

Christensen was especially happy for an overcast day that kept things a little bit cooler. She also said all of the free events make it much more enjoyable for her family.

Kylee Hamilton, 13, sported a new feather in her hair and purple glitter toes from a local hair salon that set up booths in the park.

"I really like just watching the people -- and getting my glitter toes, of course," she said.

Children ran around with different balloon hats on their heads. Some parents even went with the look to make their children laugh.

Russell said the city is known for its quirky and inexpensive activities and that she is contacted throughout the year by other cities to find out how particular contests work.

The frozen T-shirt contest has always been a hit. For this event, T-shirts are frozen into a little square, and participants must use a water bottle to get them unstuck, then don the chilly T-shirts as quickly as they can.

Traditional activities, like the car show and bingo games, are also popular. People of all ages can be found with four or five bingo cards and stacks of macaroni in an effort to win as much as they can.

At 5 p.m., a grill was given to the bingo player who won the most.

Resident Kimberly Kerr never misses Heritage Days. Her family attends the day events, goes home to rest, then returns at night for fireworks and the dance.

"We think it is grand," she said. "We love all the entertainment and just to watch the people."

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