They're Thinking Big in Strafford
With a population of 1,000, Stafford, Vt., may be among the smaller communities celebrating its 250th anniversary this summer, but that has not stopped organizers from thinking big.
According to a news release from Stefanie Johnston of the town's 250th committee, observances actually began at Town Meeting in March with the introduction of Strafford's 250th anniversary logo (seen above), the committee's plans, and an essay on the town's first settlers.
Currently, Johnston wrote, organizers are selling logo T-shirts and handmade commemorative plates donated by a local artist, Anderson Thorp. In addition, 250 postcards with the logo -- which was designed by a student, Mason Doyle -- are being distributed to promote the anniversary.
"Come to Strafford after Flag Day in June," Johnston writes, "and you will see patriotic bunting on houses from one end of town to the other, with 30 colorful, hand-sewn 250th Anniversary logo flags welcoming people to town and linking the two villages along Justin Morrill Highway."
Things will just build from there.
Johnston writes: "July begins with the opening on July 1 of the Artworks exhibit, 'A Sense of Place,' from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Morrill Homestead. The work of 15 to 20 local artists will be on view Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, and on the following two weekends. The Morrill and Harris Library Book Sale will also open Friday evening and continue through Saturday, July 2.
"On July 2, Strafford will host the traditional Independence Day celebration, made even more festive with special semiquincentennial activities. The day, like the town’s history, will begin with the arrival at Strafford of hardy souls coming from the Connecticut River up along the west branch of the Ompompanoosuc River to Strafford. The modern version, organized by Jon Stableford, will be a relay of runners carrying a solar torch, made in Strafford by groSolar family member, Fred Wolfe. When the torch joins the traditional Independence Day Road Race at South Strafford and reaches the Common in the Upper Village, the day of celebration will begin!
"A gala parade of people, horses, oxen, various wheeled vehicles and floats, being coordinated by Therese Linehan, will be followed by games led by Jessica Tidman and the PTA on the Common, where the Town House and Historical Society will also be open for visitors. History panels prepared by Strafford residents Phyl Harmon and Matt Doyle will show the town’s early beginnings from the charter in 1761 to its settlement in the late 1760s. Local musicians Paul Kifner, Steve Cornell and friends will keep things lively. Their rendition of “Happy Birthday” will lead into the cutting of two huge birthday cakes made by Strafford baker, Duane Eppler.
"The cakes will be served with a special ice cream flavor created for the 250th by Strafford Creamery owners, Amy Huyffer and Earl Ransom. The firemen will hold a duck race, an auction, and a barbecue dinner, followed by the Lions Club Variety Show in the Town House. Fireworks, made possible by Charlie Brown and friends, will end the day with a bang in South Strafford!
"The actual day of the granting of Strafford’s charter in 1761, Aug. 12, will find all the town’s bells ringing in unison, 25 times -- once for each decade -- to announce the local Thistle group’s performance in the Town House. Written by Roz Finn and produced by Carol Wilson, this will be a dramatization of Strafford personalities from 1761 to 2011.
"On Sunday of that same weekend (Aug. 14), the Historical Society, with president John Freitag, and historian Gwenda Smith, will hold its annual meeting at the Old City Recreation Area, the section of town in which the first settlement was located."
Could there be more? Apparently so!
"The celebration of Stafford's 250th anniversary will be completed with the publication of the histories of the town's organizations," Johnston writes. "A fitting way to wrap up this anniversary year, raising awareness of our town and celebrating the many wonderful and talented people who make up our community today, as in the past."
-- Mark Travis