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ST. MARYS — The 30th annual SummerFest is open for business.
The annual event, which draws crowds to Memorial Park all weekend, kicked off on Thursday with the opening ceremony. Before proclaiming the event open, St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan touted SummerFest as a bridge across generations of St. Marys residents who left but the city but who come home for the event each year.
“SummerFest is just a big city picnic,” McGowan told The Evening Leader. “It has the chance to bring the community together. What’s neat is that I will walk around here and see high school classmates who I haven’t seen in 30 or 40 years ... St. Marys is a wonderful town that everyone always feels a part of. I was gone for 30 years and I always wanted to come back here ... This is home and this will always be home.”
SummerFest serves as a major fundraiser for the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce. A yearlong effort, Chamber Director Becky Macwhinney said SummerFest is a labor of love for all those involved in the planning process.
“SummerFest is here and it’s an amazing time for the community to come together,” Macwhinney said. “It offers a homecoming for people. Everyone has their class reunions here and its a destination to come home to.”
While Thursday was cloudy and overcast, the weekend is expected to bring picture perfect weather for SummerFest. Temperatures are expected to be in the high 70s during the day and low 60s at night.
“I think with this weather coming up we are going to have a great turnout,” Macwhinney said. “I think it’s going to be a good time.”
Proceeds from the festival will go back into helping the chamber achieve its goal of growing business in the region.
“It’s the biggest fundraiser for the chamber and is what allows us to operate throughout the year,” Macwhinney said. “We are hoping to offer more services to our members and promote them more through local advertising and maybe beyond that through local organizations.”
Supper and Sounds in the Park got things started from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Following the opening ceremony, AC Swing took things home by entertaining the crowd under the entertainment tent because of the threat of showers.
SummerFest picks back up today with a slew of activities all day ranging from sidewalk sales in the morning to the diaper derby and cruise-in tonight. The Avalons will be in the gazebo from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Neon Drifter will hit the entertainment tent at 9 p.m.
Saturday’s slate is highlighted by the annual parade at 4:30 p.m. down Spring Street. For a complete schedule of events, visit StMarysOhio.org.