Bicentennial celebration to bring back
carnival and music
By Stan Schwartz
FRANKFORD—A packed all-purpose room inside the Frankford Elementary School signaled the last big fundraiser for the community in its run up to the town’s bicentennial this month.
The mood was inspiring as the townspeople listened to the rules for the night’s game—Quarter Madness—to win prizes, while adding to the coffers to help support the cost of the festival celebrating the town’s founding 200 years ago.
“It was actually founded on Jan. 20, 1819,” said Ethan Colbert, a member of the Frankford Bicentennial Committee. But having a festival during the dead of winter would have been problematic, considering what the committee had planned for this year’s celebration.
From the early 1900s through the 60s and beyond, Frankford had an active International Odd Fellows Lodge, which had sponsored the Labor Day festival, Colbert explained. And even though the current committee members are all too young to remember those festivals, they remembered hearing about them from their parents.
“We wanted to bring that back as a way of celebrating our community,” he said. The theme of this year’s fair is “Come Home to FranKford.”
Officially, the town’s population is 351. But there are a few hundred more just outside Frankford’s boarder who could claim citizenship, Colbert said. That makes what they’ve been able to raise for this celebration even more remarkable—more than $30,000.
The committee started planning the celebration in January, hosting three other community fundraisers leading up to this most recent one on Friday to a packed house.
“We started with a side-by-side poker run,” Colbert said. “We’ve had two community meals. Our community loves to come together to eat.” And this fundraiser brought out the community again.
Barb Jennings, who explained the game’s rules and had been calling out the numbers for the game, said the majority of the prizes that night were donated by local people because most of the area businesses had already been asked for donations over the course of the bicentennial’s planning.
“Individuals have also come forward with donations,” Colbert added. “It’s remarkable how this community has come together and gone above and beyond to make this festival possible.”
They are bringing back the carnival—the first time since the 1950s—and will have musical entertainment from country music stars right out of Nashville.
“There is a great tradition in Frankford of Grand Ole Opry country music stars coming here to perform,” Colbert said. There were several oprys that operated in the town back in the day.
“One was called the Mart Twain Opry at the time,” he said, “and the local lore is that Roy Rodgers and Minnie Pearl came to perform in Frankford. And when Roy Rodgers got off the stage he made the statement: ‘This is the most country music loving community outside of Nashville.’”
That story galvanized the Bicentennial Committee to bring in big-name entertainers from Nashville.
“We reached out to a couple of booking agencies in Nashville, and the two performers coming for the festival have performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage,” Colbert said.
In addition to Colbert, the other committee members are Gary and Brett Hamilton, Andy and Brianne Smith, John Schindler, Toni Beth Doggett and Jacy Mahar. The tally for the night was $2,300, all of which will go to fund the fair’s events.
Schedule of events:
Saturday, Aug. 31
7:30-9 a.m.—Community breakfast, hosed by the Frankford First Christian Church.
10 a.m.—Parade begins and craft and food vendors open in City Park. A quilt show, featuring an appraiser will start then, too, in the church.
11 a.m.—Bicentennial Festival opening ceremony.
11 a.m.-2 p.m.—Carnival midway opens.
11 a.m.-4 p.m.—Vintage car show and vintage tractor show. There will be bingo tables open under a large tent, as well.
11:30 a.m.—Little Mister and Miss Bicentennial Contest.
Noon—200 Years, 200 Photos Bicentennial Exhibition.
Noon-5 p.m.—Produce, flower and home goods exposition opens.
12:45 p.m.—Scavenger hunt.
1 p.m.—Poker in the park, Alex Reyna performs on the main stage.
3 p.m.—Sr. Mister and Ms. Bicentennial Contest. Corn Hole tournament begins.
3:45 p.m.—Houchins Family Variety Show on the main stage.
4-9:30 p.m.—Carnival midway open.
4 p.m.—A Side of Country performs on the main stage.
8 p.m.—Adam Doleac performs on the main stage
9:30 p.m.—Fireworks show.
10-midnight—Dance featuring Deviation DJ.
Sunday, Sept. 1
10 a.m.—Ecumenical Worship Service in the City Park.
11 a.m.—Craft and food vendors open; quilt show opens; baby show.
11 a.m.-5 p.m.—Carnival open.
12:30 p.m.—Cali performs on Main Stage.
1 p.m.—Debbie Ingram performs on the main stage.
3 p.m.—John King performs on the main stage.