The Wakefield Foundation hosted their annual homecoming on Saturday. The event was to celebrate the years of service the building has provided to the Wakefield community since it was first chartered back in 1986.
“This is just a family day homecoming we have for the whole community,” Event Organizer Joan Drewry said. “It’s to thank everybody for all of their support. This building’s run as a nonprofit, we have all volunteers so we just want to thank everybody with an event for the day. It’s a community day type thing.”
The old Wakefield High School building was built in 1919 to replace a one-story brick structure which burned. The fire shocked the community because the building was building was relatively new. It was also considered the finest in the area. Necessary actions took place quickly to replace the school. The first graduating class walked down the aisle of the new auditorium in 1921.
“My husband and I both graduated from here,” Drewry said. “This is the only old school building that’s left standing in Sussex County.”
The building housed grades one through twelve until 1964 when a county wide consolidation turned into an elementary school. In 1980, the building was vacated and was vacant until the current foundation purchased the building in January, 1987. Classes currently being offered at the building include piano lessons, karate classes, line dancing classes, G.E.D. classes and the Wakefield Dance Academy is held there.
“We said we wanted to buy the building,” Drewry said. “We went down to the bank and we borrowed $30,000 and bought the building. That’s the beginning, and it’s run by a board of trustees.”
Drewry was a part of the original foundation that purchased and restored the building. She said the building was in terrible shape when she first bought it, and it was being used as nothing other than just a storage for Sussex County. The event on Saturday, she said is an annual event held on the first Saturday of every October.
“I hope this building is important to the community,” Drewry said. “We appreciate everything.”
Saturday’s event included a parade when was led by the Fort Lee 392 NA Army band, and exhibit in the gallery artwork by Binford Harrell, food provided by Wakefield’s Brunswick stew including burgers and hotdogs, and other attractions included Grazin Acre, Virginia Artisans, Eagles Pine Falconry, crafters, information booths and games for children. Entertainment was provided by the bands Foster/Spain, Twisted Branches, Foundation Fireballs, Demo, and more throughout the day.
Another attraction featured at the event was the book mobile. According to Drewry, the book mobile travels to areas where there aren’t computers or any such services. The event which began around 10 a.m., concluded at about 3 p.m. The next annual homecoming event will be held at the Wakefield Foundation on the first Saturday in October 2017.
“It’s just an ongoing project,” Drewry said. “It takes a lot of contacts and a lot of people to help out. Certain groups are in charge of the food, different ones are in charge of the serving of the food, so it just takes a lot of willing hands to put on this event, it really does.”