By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: Oct. 18, 2017 | 11:15 a.m.
WAKEFIELD – The theme for Historic Wakefield’s annual Family Day/Homecoming last Saturday was “COME HOME TO WAKEFIELD,” and indeed they did! From the parade at 10 am until the close at 3 pm the action was non-stop, and Mrs. Joan Drewry, President of the Wakefield Foundation Board of Trustees, was happy to pause her golf cart to express her delight with the festivities.
“I think it’s wonderful!” she exclaimed. “We have no rain! We have been rained out for several years but today’s a beautiful day and a lot of people. A lot of people have really helped with this and volunteered and put all this together, so I’m very happy today!”
Mrs. Drewry laughed as she shared that she has been deeply involved with the Foundation since she graduated from there in 1950, and added, “It’s the only formal school building left standing in Sussex Count – it was built in 1919 – and sometimes I feel like I’ve been here that long!”
The atmosphere was relaxed and upbeat, and from the train rides for the little folks to the special exhibit in the Gallery Honoring Wakefield Veterans through the years, hundreds of happy people wandered around the grassy grounds, stopping to spend time at one great feature or another, or just to spend time catching up with old and new friends.
There was truly something for every interest or taste. And on the subject of taste, one of the more popular areas was where Wakefield boy scouts were dishing up the hot-from-the-pot Brunswick Stew. Equally interesting was the area a bit removed from the crowd where a group of men had just spent many hours mixing up a 60-gallon pot full of the flavorful concoction. And while Mayor Savedge was busily stirring it, he credited J.B. Burnett – who insisted “We’ve all tweaked it” – with being largely responsible for the recipe.
With obvious pride, Savedge indicated the mixed crew of men gathered around the stew pot as he said, “The Wakefield and Waverly people work together for events now in a big way – much more than the generation before me. That cooperation is really important to the whole area.”
Just down from the stew-ladling were homemade sweet treats like fresh donuts. And at the Relay for Life tent, the ladies stayed busy dishing up towel-clad freezers full of chocolate and vanilla and pineapple ice cream while visitors eyed home-baked desserts and canned products.
Around the corner and up the stairs people lined up underneath the original beaten tin ceiling in the hallway of the lovely old building to experience the Wakefield Veterans Exhibit set up by the Wakefield Historical Association. One of many poignant moments in the Gallery occurred when Wakefield native Virginia Anne Rives – formerly Virginia Anne Rogers, class of 1948 – came in for the day with her sons Sterling, Andrew and Baily and daughters-in-law Nancy and Brighita. As the family shared that she had four relatives honored in the exhibit, she sat for a moment in front of the uniform worn by her husband, Sterling, in World War II, and simply said, “I miss him.”
From the Veterans Exhibit, the sounds of lively musical entertainment throughout the day drew folks back out to the outdoor fun, including delightfully varied options ranging from antique cars to crafts, from trinkets to treasures, and from books to balloons. There were even free rides for little kids on the ever-popular Foundation Train, and, for the older ones, the thrill of riding along with Batman – in the Batmobile!
While the children rode and played, adults were free to visit informational booths as well as those set up by vendors. Some were both – like the pink tent run by the Pink Pearls, a group of cancer survivors raising funds to fight cancer that, on this day, were dedicating the proceeds of their efforts to preservation of The Foundation because of all the things that the multi-use facility does and means to the community.
Caught with her feet up during a very brief respite between stints overseeing the rock painting, sand art, ducky pond and balloon art in the Kids’ Area, Gayle Simms laughingly admitted that she had been conscripted into helping with the day’s events by her mother, Joan Drewry. Then she probably best summed up the day’s events for most as she looked around at all the happy people just enjoying a nice, relaxing day with neighbors and friends and said, “My favorite thing about all this is just getting to see everybody I don’t get to see during the year. To see everybody – and everybody having fun.”