The Greene Countrie Towne Festival kicks off Thursday and Greenfield Rotary Club President Andrew Surritt believes it could be one of the best festivals in many years.
“I’m hoping this is the biggest festival in as far as I can remember,” Surritt said this week. “It has the potential to be, and I’ve been in Greenfield since 2000.
“What’s made that possible is the sponsors that came forward to help fund some of the major performers and the tickets for rides are being sold at a cheaper cost because the sponsors (covered some of the fees the ride company would normally have to pay). I don’t think this year’s festival would be quite what it’s going to be without the sponsors.”
The two main entertainers are Shane Runion, a two-time CMA Emerging Artist, according to Surritt, and the Absolute Journey Tribute, which Surritt described as the No. 1 international Journey tribute band. Runion will be on the main stage from 10:30 p.m. to midnight Friday and the Absolute Journey Tribute will perform from around 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
They will both perform on the main stage that will be located at the intersection of Jefferson and Fourth streets.
The rides will be provided by Miracle Amusements, which Surritt said is the same company that provides rides for the Circleville Pumpkin Show. Surritt said there will be more rides than in past years and that they will be located on Washington Street and a small portion of Jefferson Street.
Other features that Surritt believes will enhance the festival experience include:
• On the festival website, starting Wednesday evening, there was supposed to be an interactive Google map that shows the entire festival grounds and where everything is located.
• There are more food vendors than in past years. Surritt there were 13 as of Tuesday, compared to around six in past years.
• There are more commercial vendors, including one requesting the most space ever requested – 700 square feet.
According to the festival website, the festival originated in 1967 when the main feature was an antique and classic car show. That show celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It will be held Saturday on South Washington Street and will be followed by a parade of the vehicles at 4:30 p.m.
The festival’s main parade will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday and the grand marshal will be Charlie Shonkwiler, the longtime president of the Greenfield Antique Car Club.
“It just felt fitting, since this is the 50th anniversary of the car show and Charlie recently stepped down as president of the car club, that he be made the grand marshal,” Surritt said.
Also back after a year’s absence, Surritt said, is the lip sync contest. It will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Another feature attraction on Sunday will be the unveiling at 12:30 p.m. at McClain High School of recently completed busts of Edward and Lulu McClain, who funded construction of the high school for the community more thyan 100 years ago. Tours of the high school will be offered from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Surritt said the Greenfield Rotary Club, which organizes the festival, will open a beer garden at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“All the funds collected will help support the projects we do throughout the year,” Surritt said.
The Rotary’s main fundraiser during the festival, though, is the annual auction that will take place from 1-3 p.m. Saturday. The Rotary has set a goal of raising $30,000 through the auction this year, but for that to happen it needs more donated items. Donated items can be dropped off at The Letter Shop, located at 247 Jefferson St., any time during regular business hours up until around noon on the day of the auction.
“What we’re really looking for is stuff people have around the house that is new or in nice condition,” said Chuck Miller, co-chairman of the auction with Steve Pearce. “Things like framed prints, power tools, mowers, chippers, bikes, coolers, gift cards, sports tickets, sports equipment and things like that are what have sold well in the past.”
The festival kicks off Thursday with a queen’s pageant from 7-9 p.m. at McClain High School and concludes around 6 p.m. Sunday.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]