By Kayla Sutter
SC Staff Writer
The community of Stroudsburg came together on Saturday, Sept. 5 to celebrate the town’s tenth Annual festival, Stroudfest.
This Stroudfest, in particular, was a celebration for many. It was the town’s way of celebrating a huge milestone, Stroudsburg’s 200 Birthday, or bicentennial.
For the approximate 9,000-10,000 attendees, there were tons to see, do and eat in town.
Taking over Main, Seventh, and Monroe Streets, as well as Courthouse Square, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 115 vendors and crafters packed into the town bringing unique homemade items, festival food, games for the kids, local music, a dunk tank, and of course a few bicentennial-special events, all wrapped up with a fireworks display for all at the end.
First to the Sarah Street Grill Stage in the Courthouse Square were special guests, JM Hill Chorus, a group of elementary school children singing songs that would have been heard in Stroudsburg 200 years ago, such as “Grand Old Flag.”
The community got together to compose a time capsule with 83 items meaningful to Stroudsburg residents of 2015, including letters, memorabilia, a cell phone, and more. Bill Weitzmann, head of the bicentennial committee and master of the burial ceremony, commented that the small capsule weighed more than 50 pounds.
This time capsule was buried in the center of Courthouse Square, and is not to be opened until 2065.
In addition to the new time capsule buried during the celebration, letters from a recently opened time capsule from 1965 were distributed to individuals in the crowd.
There was also an elm tree planted in Courthouse Square, with a plaque marking the important year, “Bicentennial Tree, 2015.”
“Stroudfest is one of those events you just can’t miss,” ESU student Kayla Buckstein commentated, as her and her younger sister, Lauren, stood near local business Dawn Of New York’s fashion show that took place on Main Street’s sidewalk.
“With great entertainment, awesome food options, and high spirited people all around… It is just remarkable that the community can come together and have a fun filled day.”
Out of the 115 vendors, many of them were locals to the area. They filled the streets with fresh produce, coffee, homemade jewelry, baked goods, paintings, sculptures, tie-dyes, dog treats, and jams.
Virginia Romagno, owner and sole proprietor of “Special Lady’s Specialties,” participated in her third Stroudfest this year.
Romagno makes jam with flavors ranging from classics like grape and strawberry to jalapeno apple and caramel pear, her stand was not one to miss.
“I wanted to participate this year because of the exposure Special Lady’s receives as well as the interesting people Stroudfest draws. It is an event that makes me proud of our little town. I love all the details that go into making this an extraordinary event…our little Main Street has a certain charm that says ‘Small Town America.’ It is comforting to know that in 10 years it [Stroudsburg] will still have that charm because of the people that maintain its character. It makes me proud to be a resident and to know that my grandchildren will have this little slice of heaven too.”
The Bicentennial was not the only birthday to celebrate, as two well-known businesses of the town also celebrated their milestone years: the Sherman Theater’s tenth and Sarah Street Grill’s twentieth.
Sarah Street Grill was a vendor at the event bringing their unique style of food which many enjoyed. Sporting a banner that said, “Celebrating 20 Years & Still Growing” they served pulled pork sandwiches, grilled eggplant with jersey tomatoes, kids pretzel bun grilled cheese, and fittingly, bicentennial lemonade.
The Sherman Theater was also heavily involved, building and maintaining three stages for local bands to fill the town with music for festivalgoers to enjoy.
The Sarah Street Grill Stage that held some of the restaurant’s favorites: The Wallace Brothers, Bobby Syvarth Combo, SUZE, Quincy Mumford, and the Reason Why.
The Brite Cleaner Stage was home to Perla Solano, The Don Mayer Blues Band, Matt Abell Trio, and Adam Jacob.
Lastly, The Living Room/Rock Hard Studios Stage, set up in a parking lot across from the Sherman Theater, was dressed with local rock bands: Jettison, The Set Up, Statues & Stories, Red Pandas, Gracie Mansion, South Of The Peak, and Cascavel.
Vice President of Operations and Community Liaison, Lorna O’Farrell, was the Stroudfest organizer this year.
O’Farrell was seen running around the entire festival throughout the day.
“I was honored to be a part of the Sherman’s contribution to the community. I learned the importance of being part of a great team who worked tirelessly for over eight months to make it possible,” O’Farrell explained.
O’Farrell was seen in her office a few days before the event with a drawn out picture of Stroudsburg, mapping out the entire festival: where each vendor would be placed, along with the performance stages, and road closures.
“It [Stroudfest] brings people within the community and beyond to come together for a positive experience and contributes to the economic development of our business community,” said O’Farrell.
When asked if the bicentennial added to the excitement this year, O’Farrell was positive the answer was yes: “People who were raised in this area and moved out, came back for the celebration. It brings the history of the area to the forefront and educated everyone on the important part Stroudsburg played in Pennsylvania history.”
Stroudfest came to an end as the sun started to set, vendors packed up as the fireworks were prepped to be set off.
At 8:00 p.m. promptly, the fireworks display began. The large crowds enjoyed festival treats such as ice cream and funnel cake as they stood and watched the fireworks light up the entire town.
Overall, Stroudfest was a huge success with thousands of attendees enjoying shopping, food, drinks, and music. This celebration of blissful life in Stroudsburg will be a lasting memory for all that attended.
Here’s to 200 long years, and many more to come.
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