Waynesboro readies for bicentennial

January 27, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Waynesboro is celebrating its 200th birthday in a big way.

The 14-member Waynesboro Historical Society Bicentennial Committee has planned two months of non-stop activities in and around town starting Wednesday, Aug. 6, during the Cumberland Valley Fireman's Convention. The weeks following will be filled with activities, concerts, athletic events, dances and shows, all to commemorate the borough's beginnings.

"We have things for everybody," said Bicentennial Committee Secretary Allie Kohler. "It's a celebration most people don't see two of."

The committee, organized in 1994 and meeting every month since June 1995, has spent hours planning nearly 50 events and inviting "everyone from the top down," Kohler said, including President Bill Clinton and family.

Although the president has yet to accept the invitation, several other special guests have confirmed they will join in the festivities.


Former Waynesboro resident Dan Sutton, a concert pianist who now lives in Germany, is planning to come back to his home town to give a concert. Also returning home for the celebration and performing will be Todd Kowalis, an opera singer, who lives in Bloomington, Ind. Randall Williams, now of Hagerstown, is scheduled to give an organ recital.

Two events have been arranged with the intent of bringing former Waynesboro residents back to town. An alumni band concert is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 17, and two alumni choral concerts are set for Sunday, Sept. 21, both to be held at Waynesboro High School.

"We're asking anybody that sang or played in any school musical group to come back and perform," Kohler said.

The committee tried to combine traditional activities with new ones during the two-month celebration, Kohler said.

Like the borough's 150th birthday, there will be a costume contest of 1797-period clothing, a beard contest sponsored by the Brothers of the Brush club, and historical re-enactments, including a Civil War encampment and tours at Renfrew Museum, and working artists in costume at Memorial Park.

"We hope some of those will go over as well as they did in 1947," Kohler said.

But two popular activities in 1947 won't be part of this year's festivities. Committee members decided not to hold the Miss Waynesboro beauty contest or swimsuit competition, Kohler said.

There will be a rededication of the 1897 Monument in the Burns Hill Cemetery that may include replacement of a cannon barrel which has been missing for years, Kohler said. The public also will be able to view a video documentary of the borough, produced by Kohler's son, who works for NBC, on a wide screen at the high school Monday through Thursday, Sept. 15-19.

The Franklin County Farm Bureau is sponsoring its Farm Fest on Saturday, Sept. 13, for the first time in Waynesboro as part of the bicentennial activities. Buses will be provided to take the public on tours of a working dairy farm and horse and beef farm. There also may be a tour of an orchard, and bureau officials have preliminary plans to provide an elaborate corn maze, Kohler said.

Also scheduled in the two-months are a craft show, NASCAR show, church choir concerts, a kids day, farmers market, a 5-mile bicentennial race, dances, a fireman's carnival, sports tournaments, a business and industries open house, a car show and the Waynesboro Fire Department's minstrel show.

"Most people don't realize how big this is going to be," Kohler said.

The celebration will end with Waynesboro High School's homecoming tailgate party, football game and fireworks on Friday, Sept. 19. On Saturday, Sept. 20, the 200th anniversary parade will start at noon.

Admission to most activities will be free, Kohler said. Food will be available from vendors at some events. Bicentennial memorabilia such as T-shirts and sweatshirts, mugs, coins, canvas bags and limited-edition plates will be available for purchase.

  • Volunteers are needed to help during the two-months of activities, including table and chair setups, ushers, parking, registration, ticket distribution and organizers, Kohler said. Anyone interested in helping or for more information can call the bicentennial office at 1-717-765-0200.
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