Festival Draws Crowd to Park
Monday, June 14, 2010
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Hundreds of area residents braved the heat Saturday to attend the Outdoor Fun Festival at J. Frank Wilson Park.
More than two dozen organizations, businesses and clubs participated in the second annual festival, sponsored by the Virginia Museum of Natural History and Martinsville Parks and Recreation Department.
The National Weather Service forecasted a high temperature on Saturday of 89 degrees but, according to the service's website, the thermometer actually reached 93 degrees by 1:30 p.m. as a thunderstorm loomed on the horizon.
"If it wasn't for the shade, it would be terrible out here," said Lee Sessor of Ridgeway as he helped his 31â„2-year-old son, Austin, down a sliding board.
Children's activities included an inflatable rock climbing wall and castle that kids could bounce in. Kids also enjoyed a variety of playground equipment at the park, including swings, a merry-go-round and a basketball court.
Food vendors sold many tasty treats. There was live music, and local civic groups and community organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, Civil Air Patrol and Smart Beginnings, distributed information about their activities.
"There's a lot of good information ... (and) good music," Sessor said.
Going Big, a campaign to raise $100,000 by July 31 to install a skateboard park at Wilson Park, had a fundraising jar at the festival. A representative of the campaign, Christian Perkins, said donations to the jar were "a little more than I thought" they would be, although he did not have a total amount.
Overall, the campaign so far has raised more than $35,000, organizers said last week.
"Every little donation can help," Perkins noted.
Eugene Reynolds of Martinsville brought his three grandchildren - Jamarius, 11, and Yaniya and Jaliyah Reynolds, both 7. He said the festival was "really, really nice."
Yaniya Reynolds said she liked the snow cones for sale and the basketball courts the best.
Martinsville Parks and Recreation Director Gary Cody estimated attendance at 1:30 p.m. at about 500 children and adults. The event ended at 3 p.m.
Although he was pleased with attendance, Cody said "you always shoot for more."
"Everyone's saying it's great, it's just hot," he said, adding that the heat could have kept some people away.
Cody added that one idea he has for future Outdoor Fun Festivals is a water balloon toss contest. At the least, it might help keep people cool, he said.