Festival season kicks off Saturday

By Philip Case Published:

What began as an event to help a small community not be forgotten, has become a weekend not to forget.

The 18th annual Swallowfield Days is set for 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, resuming at 11 a.m. next Sunday in the small northern Franklin County community of Swallowfield “on the horseshoe” about 10 miles from town on U.S. 127 North.

The festival is a “survivor,” across the years having endured weekends when the heat was almost unbearable — and those when that summer’s drought decided to end in dramatic fashion.

At one time it was the last in the community festival season, being held on the final weekend of September. Then Pete Wise, the chief cook and bottle washer, decided to be almost biblical about the event, suggesting to his committee it be moved to August, making it what was once last now first.

Across the years other community festivals have come and gone. About all that survives now is Swallowfield Days and the granddaddy of them all, Millville Hillbilly Daze, usually the third weekend of September.

“I just thought it was time for a change,” said Wise, who lives in town with his wife, Jane, but whose heart is in Swallowfield. “So we went from last to first!”

The date may have changed but little else has about the weekend since Wise and Charlie Brown, the former minister of Swallowfield Church of Christ, got their heads together back in the late 90s and decided their little community wasn’t going to be forgotten with the widening and straightening of U.S. 127 North.

“We’re on something of a horseshoe,” said Wise. “You come off 127 to get here, go through town, and end up back on 127.”

Wise hopes folks will tarry a spell next weekend, however, visit the various vendors, let the kids enjoy the petting zoo and pony rides, listen to some music — and buy a $5 chance on a late model Chrysler Sebring convertible Wise has fully restored.

Wise, who owns an auto body repair shop, has restored a car each year for Swallowfield Days. He takes great pride in doing it and is gratified that on more than one occasion someone who’s put down five bucks and won really needed a car.

All proceeds go to fund the festival. Wise donates his services to restore the car.

Wise hopes all those who have ties to Swallowfield will come out next weekend — and those who want to just have a good time in the country will, too.

For more information, call Wise at 502-223-2959.

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