SummerFest Offers Fun, Rides

ST. MARYS — Parades, softball tournaments and music will take over St. Marys this week as an annual summer festival returns.

The 2011 edition of SummerFest will once again feature a wide slate of activities, bands, food and fellowship in Memorial Park.

The event, organized by the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce, takes over the park at 6:45 p.m. Thursday with the opening ceremony followed by Supper and Sounds in the Park.

From there, the rest of the weekend is packed with something for everyone.

“The highlights of this year are that we added some new events,” St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce Director Kelly Kill said. “Some of those are a rib and chicken cook-off Saturday and a SummerFest pool tournament at the UAW hall.”

The new events pop up as a result of individuals coming forward and volunteering to organize them.

Kill said another new event this year is a craft show scheduled for Aug. 13.

“We have people ask all the time and this year we had a lady take over the chair, so we are going to have a craft show this year,” Kill said. “We are going to have the craft show in conjunction with the farmers’ market, which is every Saturday. They will go hand in hand.”

Kill noted the chicken and ribs cook-off should be popular as well. Bragging rights for the best barbecue in the region will be up for grabs as part of the event.

“We are hoping it’s popular,” Kill said. “We are hoping it’s one of those things where the smells will drive the crowds crazy as the meats are cooked.”

Music also plays an important role during SummerFest, Kill noted, with the event features a wide variety of acts and styles.

“We are doing music in both the gazebo and entertainment tent,” Kill said. “Thursday night we have the big band sounds of AC Swing. That’s always a popular event in the park with the opening ceremony. Our community just really seems to enjoy listening to AC Swing.”

Nashville Crush, the Earthquakers and The One Eyed Show dot the roster of bands in the entertainment tent. Another major draw is the parade, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Aug. 13.

“It’s always popular,” Kill said. “We always have a big crowd that turns out for the parade and many come down into the park to have supper and listen to the bands and enjoy the rides. It’s just a nice day.”

Planning for the event is a year-round process. Kill said she developed a list for this year’s SummerFest during last year’s festival.

“I’ve already started my 2012 file,” Kill said. “It’s an all-year event for us at the chamber. The true discussion will start in October. In September, we have a wrap up meeting to critique it and see how we can make things better and just decide what is the best way for us to go in the future.”

Food and fellowship are themes that ring throughout the festival. Kill said another new addition this year that plays off those themes sparked a lot of interest.

“We have class reunions that occur this weekend,” Kill said. “We actually have a class reunion tent that Memorial High School classes can rent and they can meet there to make sure they have a place where they know everyone will be. I think it will be really popular. We didn’t have trouble filling it up this year.”