Hundreds come out to annual community celebration
FREDONIA — The lawn in front of the Fredonia Community House was full of tents, people and products, all there to celebrate the history of the Chambers County community at the Fredonia Heritage Day festival.
Rows of vendors both local and from other parts of the Southeast offered everything from hand-carved wood bowls to homemade fruit preserves to clothing and accessories bearing the colors of Auburn or Alabama. In the back near the 99-year-old community center, a raised stage hosted a non-stop rotating schedule of musical acts offering a soundtrack to the festival-goers as they browsed the wares, ordered food or took in the history of Fredonia in the makeshift museum.
In its ninth year, Fredonia Heritage Day is organized by a board of dedicated community members. Starting as soon as the previous one concludes, the board works year-round to invite vendors, musical acts and historic presenters so that the festival can offer those in attendance a day of fun and reflection.
“You would not believe the amount of work that goes into this,” said board member Phyllis Steinborn. “We raise funds for the community house which has been here for almost 100 years.”
The community center, Steinborn said, was originally one of the two schools in Fredonia. Now a community center, it stands as the historical centerpiece of the festival each year.
“We’ve got a lot of history in Fredonia,” said George Barrow, history room chair and theme coordinator. “The main theme [this year] is honoring our people. The first responders, the fire department, police department, scouts, commissioners, everyone.”
Barrow and the board work to match the history room with the theme each year. With an emphasis on the people of Fredonia for 2018, Barrow said they used this year’s theme to honor those who made the community what it is.
“We came up with the idea of ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” he said, referencing the wall of images depicting the history of Fredonia. “What we tried to do there is get photos of local folks doing everyday things.”
When festival-goers weren’t learning more about the community’s heritage, they were also participating in cake walks, raffles and songs of praise inside and outside of the community house. The raffle tickets were being sold to those wanting a chance to win this year’s heritage quilt created by board member Carolyn Horn.
All proceeds would go back into the community, further preserving the history of Fredonia.
“We haven’t always lived in Fredonia, but we live here now,” Horn said. “We liked it so much that we moved.”
That sense of excitement toward the community was shared among everyone in attendance. Smiles could be seen at every tent as visitors milled around, learning about their history and enjoying the cool November day.