Food, fireworks and fitness at Waynesboro Summer Jubilee
Nearly 25 years ago, The Rotary Club of Waynesboro (Pa.), kicked off a Fourth of July celebration meant to offer family-friendly activities for the community.
The effort was spearheaded by physician Joe Stewart. Today, Stewart, sits on the Waynesboro Summer Jubilee board of directors and the event continues to take place each year. Darrell Swart, president of the board of directors for the group, said Stewart had the “drive and idea.”
“The Rotary Club helped to get it off the ground and to get it up and running, and it became it’s own entity,” Swart said.
The 23rd annual Waynesboro Summer Jubilee will be held Thursday, July 4, on the land across from the Waynesboro Hospital. The event kicks off with a Kids 1-mile Fun Run at 7:30 a.m. and the Firecracker 5K at 8 a.m. There will be a parade, free entertainment and children’s activities throughout the day, as well as patriotic exhibits and vendor booths, and a fireworks display at dusk.
The event costs about $20,000 and takes about 100 volunteers to put on, according to Swart.
“We do a lot of fundraising. We get a lot of great support from the community, from businesses and individuals in the greater Waynesboro area,” he said.
The Jubilee typically features 20 or 30 craft vendors and a number of food vendors as well as inflatables for kids.
Attendees can register to have their name drawn to enter the F&M Trust Money Machine, a phone booth-sized cubicle in which cash is blown around by a fan.
“The lucky winner goes into the money machine and tries to grab as much money as they can,” Swart said.
Entertainment will include performances by ministry team Operation Barnabas, Waynesboro Children’s Theatre Troupe, rock band The South Mountain Breed, country and southern rock band Renegade Ridge, an ‘80s, ‘90s and Top 40s group Countdown Band.
Manitowoc Cranes raises a flag during a ceremony honoring veterans and active duty military personnel.
While many features of the festival have remained the same, others have been added and adapted over the years. A pie-eating contest was updated in recent years to a hot dog-eating contest.
“We get a lot of participants,” Swart said. “It pays out a hundred dollar prize for the first-place winner.”
Several years ago, Swart said, organizers added honor boards to the festival.
“Each board has all the military branches of service. Folks come up and write the names of family members on the board to pay remembrance or appreciation for the service they have provided us,” Swart said.
The concept was based on the idea of memorials with names at Washington, D.C. monuments, and personalized by family members using permanent marker and personalized messages. Since the inception of the honor boards, one has been filled up and a second is likely to be covered this year.
“We’ll need to get another set of boards to expand. This is something that people have really gotten a hold of,” Swart said.
He estimated that the Jubilee draws more than 7,000 people.
The Firecracker 5K alone averages around 500 participants, peaking one year at 750. While the race is competitive for serious runners, it is also friendly to those who run just for fun. Beginning last year, children with disabilities participated in the race using specialized wheelchairs.
“The community got behind that and really cheered for the people coming into the finish line,” Swart said.
Swart, who has been involved with the event for 11 years, and five as board president, initially got on the board because of his role as owner of Tru-Precision Lawn Care. A friend asked him to get involved.
“Having a business in the local area and the community supporting my business, I wanted to find a way to give back and to offer support through my time and resources,” he said.
The reward for volunteerism comes the day of the event.
“You are there with thousands of people who are walking around. You hear the kids having a blast and everything going on,” Swart said. “It’s very rewarding to be involved in putting that together.”