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250th celebration plans under way

By Staff | Apr 8, 2011

Though the launch of the town’s semi-quincentennial celebration is seven months away, the Shepherdstown 250 committee has already sought support from over 200 organizations and businesses and hundreds of local residents in the months of planning.

And organizers say the year-long celebration should be a success due to the ideas from volunteers, community members and leadership planning the event.

“It’s a remarkable community,” said Meredith Wait, Shepherdstown 250 chair, “and that’s what we’re celebrating – past, present and future.”

The volunteer committee, which is currently made up of about 60 individuals, has already thought of several ideas for the celebration, marking the signing of the town’s charter.

Some preliminary ideas include a community quilt, commemorative books, art in public places and a town water foundation.

They also plan for a culminating event the weekend of Nov. 10 and 11, 2012 in which a “modest parade of founding family descendents” will end with a celebration around food and music in the center of town, Wait said.

Throughout the year, various organizations will also hold annual events with a 250th anniversary twist, which will be advertised on the event’s master calendar.

Catherine Irwin, budget and fund raising chair, said the celebration will be made possible through a budget that has been approved by the Shepherdstown 250 committee and the town, since the entire group acts under the auspices of town council.

Irwin, who has a background in nonprofit management from years of working with the Contemporary American Theater Festival, said the the budget sets expenses at approximately $45,000, and she expects revenues to net about $50,000. The Corporation of Shepherdstown gave the committee a grant of $2,500 to “get up off our feet and get going,” Irwin said.

Irwin, whose committee includes Town Councilor David Springer and Shepherd University graduate and financial adviser Jennifer Peterson, said that her committee hopes to generate funding through grants, sponsorships and donations.

Irwin, who believes she is fiscally conservative, believes the celebration and all that comes with it is doable, and if not, she said adjustments will have to be made financially.

“I know that it’s not going to be easy, but I’ve seen such a spirit and such and excitement from people,” she said. “You’ve got to dream and you have to put down what you think is doable.”

Wait has seen that same excitement from people – especially the volunteers serving with her.

“It’s almost like you can kind of start to see a sparkle in everybody’s eye,” she said. “We do not have a shortage of ideas.”

Jeff Roth, a Charles Town resident who designed the winning 250th anniversary logo, started at Shepherd College in 1970, a time when he said Shepherdstown was “very sleepy.” He said there were a few restaurants, a grocery store, the library, a pharmacy and “core businesses.”

“No one was doing anything to take advantage of the charm of Shepherdstown,” he said.

But during his time there, Roth saw the town go through a transformation.

He said he has lived in other places around the United States, but Jefferson County is a “nice place to come back to.”

Roth’s logo displays the words “remember, celebrate, imagine” – three words revolving around the 250-year celebration.

Wait said she sees a town that is excited about what the event is going to be and what it could be.

“This is a town that’s doing this, and it’s really pretty phenomenal,” she said.