Stephens City is gearing up for Memorial Day with two days of activities kicking off Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28. 30and Newtown Heritage Festival is centered around the historic Newtown Wagon. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Stephensburg prospered as a crossroads village with small industries, with the production of the famous Newtown Wagon.
This huge wagon, whose strength and durability of materials and careful finish, has not been surpassed. The wagon rivaled their famous prototypes, the Conestoga wagons of Pennsylvania. Roomy enough to haul whatever the mighty six horses could pull over rough roads and strong enough to handle the weight of four tons, the Newtown Wagon became legendary for its toughness among Virginia farmers and emigrating settlers. west, including the Gold Rush of 1849.
Blacksmiths, wheelwrights, tanneries, saddle and harness makers, goldsmiths, lumberjacks, machine shops and other skill mixes were created to support the wagon manufacturing industry. The Newtown Wagon logo reflects the history of the ordinary people who lived, worked and prospered here and personifies the spirit of festivals.
All events are free and open to the public.
The festivities begin on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. with the Newtown String Band on the town stage. The Lexington-based bluegrass band describes themselves as an Acoustic/Bluegrass/Americana genre band. The Newtown Band is followed by a Main Street Family Night movie featuring “The Sandlot” at dusk (around 8:45 p.m.). The Sandlot is a really sweet and fun coming of age adventure. This movie will capture your attention with its memories of what really matters when you’re 12. Bring lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy the music and movie.
The main events take place on Saturdays, with a full program of music, a car show, tours, museums, food, crafts and glittering fireworks. A 2 p.m. parade through the city will include many floats, marching bands, vintage cars, tractor-drawn wagons, fire engines, military vehicles, dignitaries and local civic groups.
A Veterans’ Celebration will be held at the Memorial – Old Stephens City School at 8 a.m. The featured speaker is Mariah Smith, City Council member and retired Army veteran.
A car show will be held at Old Stephens City School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Best Show Award.
The Commons will open at 10:00 a.m. with a festival information kiosk, commemorative sales, pie contest registration, tickets for the city’s history tour, craft tents and food vendors. food. The festival will once again feature our traditional gray and blue pottery from Grandville Hollow. Part 2022 is a 7″ barrel tankard and the 30and Anniversary Special is a limited edition large 8 ¼” pitcher.
Craft vendors will sell their wares from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. About 20 craft vendors will be on hand to sell handmade jewelry, artwork, homemade crafts, bags and wooden crafts. Food vendors will serve customers from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. to include traditional festival dishes such as hamburgers, hot dogs, gyros, fried and teriyaki chicken, Italian sausages, hot corn, pizza, ice cream and funnel cake. Food and craft vendors will be selling items from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Three local museums will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in honor of the festival: Newtown History Center Transportation Museum – Old Stephens City School, Steele & Brothers Store – 5353 Main Street and Newtown History Center – 5408 Main Street.
People usually attend the festival to sample their favorite food, music, craft tents and stay for the fireworks. However, for more insight into the history of Stephens City, people can take a trolley tour at 11:00 a.m. or 4:00 p.m. presented by Rick Kriebel, Director of Collections and Programs at the Stone House Foundation. titled “Along Mulberry”. The one-hour tour will depart from Capon Valley Bank and identify relevant buildings along Mulberry Street. Reserve your free ticket(s) by emailing [email protected]
A museum hamlet will be located in the side yard of the Newtown History Center. The following organizations will be set up for the exhibitions; The Stewart Bell Archives, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation, the French and Indian War Foundation and The Sons of the American Revolution.
There will be famous drive-in and take-out barbecue chicken from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Stephens City Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service – 5346 Mulberry Street. It’s a secret fire station recipe.
The mile-long, 2-hour North-South Main Street Parade highlights the hometown festival. Each year, families hold reunions around the event, old friends return to town, and children are mesmerized by the experience. The laid-back vibe that emanates from the show promotes a hometown feel. There is excitement in the air at 2 p.m. as residents leave their homes, sit on the sidewalk in lawn chairs just a few feet away, and become interactive with parade participants.
Everyone knows each other personally and the intimate nature of the parade makes it easier to laugh and converse among an enthusiastic crowd. The parade evolves little by little towards an electrifying and amusing animation; reunion filled with family. It’s what makes small towns the heart and soul of America.
Festival committee member Donna Steward provided a summary of parade entries. “The Frederick County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard will carry the flags and the Stephens City Boy Scouts will lead with the festival banner. Other entrants include Sons of the American Revolution, vintage cars including those from the car show at the south end of town, Stephens City Mayor Mike Diaz and festival chairman Tootie Rinker, the winners of Newtown Beauty Pageant, Shenandoah Valley Gas and Steam Club and Edinburgh’s VFW Post 2447 Rider’s Group. Italia Performing Arts, Gore’s Meats and several churches will have floats and there will be many marching groups,” Steward said.
Judging will be done by the festival’s former president, Adrian O’Connor. “Plaques will be awarded for the following, Best Heritage Presentation, Best Originality and Best Overall Appearance,” Steward concluded.
A first day Selfie Tour in the Stephens City area will include stand-up and hand-held chopping boards that feature you as Mona Lisa, American Gothic, Big Apple with a Worm, Nellie the Cow, Conestoga Wagon, Ice Cream Cones and Squash . Receive a map of the exact locations at the information booth or on our Facebook page.
A pie contest (youth and adult divisions) will take place in front of the Stage on the Commons at 6 p.m. Pre-registration is mandatory at the festival tent.
According to a festival committee member, Adrian O’Connor, Souled Out, Crosswinds and the Newtown Music Center Acoustic Ensembles were the first bands he invited this year. “These bands were selected because they are local, providing a true hometown feel to the first in-person festival since the COVID shutdown. The bands came out to support the festival when we hosted the “virtual” streaming concert last year. We are all so happy that they accepted our invitations again this year,” O’Connor said.
The following activities will take place on Saturday on the municipal stage:
- The Virginia Rain Bluegrass (new to the festival) is based in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where the roots of bluegrass run deep, traditional and true, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
- Crosswinds is based in Frederick County and performs today’s country hits…and the classics that matter, from 4-6:30 p.m.
- Souled Out, a funk/soul/dance band is based in Winchester, VA from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- The evening will end with a big fireworks display at 9 p.m.
For more information on festival times and events, call City Hall at 869-3087.