YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – While many families travel for the Fourth of July weekend, lots of people stay in the area for one hometown party. Organizers say this year’s event will be the biggest one yet.
In its 11th year, Celebrate Poland still offers music, contests, games and time to catch up with neighbors and friends — all while helping out local businesses.
It’s the biggest event of the year in downtown Poland.
“The one time you can see your neighbors or see the folks from baseball from last year that you don’t get to see this year. The kids get to have fun but the parents get to catch up and have fun, too,” said Cindy Best, president of the Celebrate Poland committee.
The festivities kicked off Friday night as they do every year with the annual Strawberry Festival at Poland Presbyterian Church.
“This church has been doing the Strawberry Festival since 1950,” said Rev. Paul Anderson.
It brings in thousands of dollars that go toward youth programs.
“It focuses more on mission trips, and the youth mission is the primary focus of the money we raise,” Anderson said.
As 7 p.m. neared on Friday night, people flocked to Youngstown-Pittsburgh Road for the firemen’s parade. Kids with candy bags waved to first responders tossing treats.
But, the fun is just getting started because Saturday is packed with events, too.
“If you live in this area, you’re going to come to it because we have something for everybody. You don’t have to leave, you can stay right here,” Best said.
Civil War characters will give history lessons and tours.
David Smith with the Poland Historical Society says the village is a very old community. He’s proud to help present some of its history by leading historic tours during the festival, including a graveyard tour.
“Highlighting people who have died from what we call unnatural causes. We have a few who have drowned, a few who were killed in railroad accidents. We have some casualties of wars and so forth. We have a story that goes with each person,” Smith said.
Each of the tours through downtown Poland have one goal in mind:
“Young people – we like for them to learn and appreciate the history of this nice, historic town so they can carry on these stories to their children when the time comes,” Smith said.
There’s “Chalk The Walk” — a sidewalk drawing contest — and Poland Idol, a singing competition with winners from different age groups. Poland Idol begins at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
One of the biggest draws is the children’s area where there are Bounce-A-Round inflatables and games. You’ll also find pony rides, a cherry pie baking contest and a rock-climbing wall.
Some changes have been made to make the celebration more family-friendly and save everyone money at the same time.
For cost-conscious parents, there are many free things for your kids to do, like Amazon Eric’s free reptile show.
Organizers realized it could get pricey for families to be able to do everything, so they worked on that for this year.
“We realized that if you had a large family, you could spend a lot of money in the back with the Bounce-A-Round and different family games. So this year, we’ve tried to make it more reasonable for families,” said Marcia Tiger, a member of the Celebrate Poland committee.
“It’s fun! You can do whatever you want and you get to scream. I like screaming,” said Kosta Kalicatzaros.
But that screaming may be drowned out Saturday night by a DJ — who will start performing at 5 p.m. — and fireworks that are set to start at 10 p.m.
Shuttle services are available on Saturday between noon and 4 p.m. People can park at the Poland United Methodist Church on Rt. 224 and take a bus to and from the festivities.
Also, between 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., parking will be available at the United Methodist Church and at Poland High School on Rt. 170 and Dobbins Road for the shuttle.
- Poland Idol, Cherry Pie Contest – Cindy Best – (330)-651-2999
- Craft Show – Barbara Banks – (330)-757-4584
- Food Vendors – Rick Pompeii – (330)-565-9763
For more information, visit Celebrate Poland’s Facebook page.