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Little town, big fun: Williamsport Days will impress

Little town, big fun: Williamsport Days will impress
by Brittany Lebling

This year, the town of Williamsport plans to revamp C&O Canal Days into Williamsport Days. The festival will draw on vintage community celebration, such as a town picnic and community pool party, to bridge an ever-widening gap between the generations that have been here for decades and the young and new generations that remember little more than vendors, yard sales, and food when August's heat and haze roll into Williamsport.
Williamsport's rich and long town history gives citizens a reason to be boastful and proud. The town lies on an original Native American route, which was used by European settlers to travel west and south. Williamsport also briefly housed George Washington at the Springfield Farm in 1791 when he visited.
Nevertheless, Williamsport Days will draw crowds due to the "small town community [feel] with access to the C&O canal" according to Jessica Roney, a resident of Williamsport for over twenty years.
On August 23, The Williamsport Community Band will play in Byron Memorial Park from 7pm to 8pm. The band is directed by Susie Downs Kunkle, who used to be the director of The Blue Band and the coordinator of music for the Washington County School Board. "She's got a fabulous, what you would say, resume of music," says Nelson Deal, who is the Chairman of the Entertainment Committee for Williamsport Days.
August 24 brings a supremely old-town feeling to Byron Memorial Park with a town picnic. Families are asked to bring a covered dish. The town will provide delicious hamburgers, hotdogs, and drinks for all attendees from 5:30 to 6:30.
To add prestige and even more entertainment to the evening, the US Navy Commodores will be playing a wonderful concert beginning at 7pm.
Friday, August 25 will be a night for dancing in Williamsport. Between 6pm and 10pm in the evening, the intersection between Salisbury and Conococheague Street will be closed off and turned into a DJed party.
Williamsport Days is a wonderful opportunity for old and new citizens to meet each other and also for visiting patrons to see everything the Williamsport has to offer as a community. Mayor McCleaf explains, "It's a homecoming, but yet we utilize the beautiful Byron Memorial Park which just about every kid that's ever lived in Williamsport has played in, whether it be little league baseball or going down the sliding board, and we encompass not only the park but also the C&O Canal...we have a lot of the Canal in Williamsport and [we're using] its history to tie [all of this] together."
Saturday and Sunday of the weeklong festivities will honor the well-known C&O Canal Days events. In Byron Memorial Park on Saturday, August 26, there will be several vendors, ranging from crafts to the famous ice cream with fresh peaches.
Bands will also be playing in Byron Memorial Park that day, from noon to 7pm. Musical styles will range from Bluegrass by the Stone Creek Band to the marches and quicksteps from Civil War Era band music by the Wildcat Regiment Band.
On Sunday in Byron Memorial Park, vendors will be selling their goods again from 9am to 6pm, along with entertainment from a local magician.
Attendees can expect a lot more action at the Cushwa Basin this year. Mayor McCleaf, Chairman of the Williamsport Days Committee has arranged for living history demonstrations including a sensational presence of reenactors from the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and the Civil War. "This is kind of neat, because the town wants to promote the C&O Canal, the C&O Canal Association will be on hand [and] they are going to be a big player in this too. This is just a stepping stone to make C&O Canal a main feature for next year," he said.
Williamsport Days may be different than C&O Canal Days, but nothing about it will cheapen Williamsport's charming country atmosphere. The faces will still be smiling, the music will still be playing, and all the prices will still be family-friendly. Change is periodically detrimental to town events, but in this case Mayor McCleaf has preserved all the important elements of the previous C&O Canal Days. He explains, "It's about being proud about where we're at, what we're doing, and where we're going."

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