This year’s Chingawassa Days got off to a hot start, literally, with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity.
In spite of the heat, Adam Heerey, a member of the festival planning committee, said attendance was strong with an estimated 1,500 to 1,600 people participating each evening.
Traditional events, such as the community barbecue, ice cream social, pie-eating contest and pancake feed were well received.
One of the newest events was popular, too: the first color run, where walkers, joggers and runners are dowsed with colored powder along the route. Heerey estimated participation in the run to be 170 to 200 people.
“It was great,” he said. “People had a lot of fun. We had all ages, families, we had kids in strollers and a few dogs. But it was a lot of fun.”
Another new and popular event was the firefighter combat challenge organized by the local fire department.
“It was like an obstacle course type of thing, where (kids) went through a few things and got to try on some outfits,” Heerey said.
As usual, the musical groups on Friday and Saturday evening drew significant crowds.
“As far as musical acts, we had seven total this year—three on Friday night,” Heerey said. “There were two on the main stage that are faith-based Christian rock bands. Then one (group) afterward did some country covers right outside of the beer garden.
“The two Christian rock bands were very talented artists and talented musicians,” he added. “And they played through the heat. It was just scorching, but that went well.”
Saturday night’s musical menu included two singers from a school for musical in Nashville, Ava Rowland and Alyssa Lynn.
“They were so excited to be on the big stage and opening for these big names,” Heerey said. “But they also walked around the crowd, introduced themselves and took photos with everybody. They brought the kids up to the stage to dance and sing up to the front.
“They just did a great job of networking and meeting everybody.”
The big musical acts that took the stage after them were down to earth as well, and made a point to get to know the local community.
“Drake White was our opener for Montgomery Gentry,” Heerey said. “Drake White had one of our committee members drive him all around town, showing him different buildings. If anyone had social media, he was putting a lot of stuff on there from around town, and a lot of videos and photos. He really wanted to see the community and where he was.”
Members of the Christian bands took their families to the Marion swimming pool during the off hours.
“It was just kind of a cool year to see almost all of the artists out in the community throughout the day,” Heerey said. “I thought that was a lot of fun.”
Heerey said the festival planning committee invested a lot of hours and a lot of sweat to pull the festival together.
“It was a lot of hard work this year,” he said. “As always, we really appreciate the sponsors within the community. All of our donors were wonderful. There’s no way we could host something like this and set our button prices where they’re at without the sponsors and without the community being willing to help out,” he added.