Franklin hosts Fourth of July celebration
Published 10:35 am Wednesday, July 9, 2014
FRANKLIN—It was an all-time first at Armory Park on Saturday as local residents were able to enjoy a major event right here in our own backyard.
On many holidays if one wanted to attend a major event it would require you to travel away from the city. Franklin Mayor Raystine Johnson-Asburn said on Saturday, “I am still excited — this day was organized for the community and we worked very hard to organize this to have the community to be able to come out on a holiday weekend and have some family fun. So, we are very excited to be sponsoring this and, hopefully, it will become and annual event especially after today.”
The event named Franklin Community Fourth of July Celebration was sponsored by the City of Franklin, Franklin Department of Parks & Recreation and the Buffalo Riders of Hampton Roads. The event used the theme, “Building a Stronger Community…Together.”
One local resident whose face is very familiar to many and well known to others at many events/sporting games in the city is James Ruffin. Ruffin and his partner, Mike Stephens, can also be spotted in Walmart, McDonalds and at Hardees, were present for the event. When questioned about it, Ruffin said, “I am really enjoying this activity today and the weather today is very good to be out here in it.”
The entire grounds of Armory Park were used for food and merchandise vendors, exhibits, inflatables, shade tents, RVs, swimming and crowds of women and children were spotted in all the areas. One family was just on a car ride through the city and spotted the event and decided to stop for a while. Others said they were in town for family reunions spent some of their free time at the event.
“I appreciate the people that did come out,” said Johnson-Ashburn on Tuesday. “I want to thank everyone for all of the support — the sponsors, the volunteers, the vendors, and the participants. We are looking forward to the next one!”
An informal count put the event at around 600 attendees. Johnson-Ashburn said that was pretty good, but they wanted to build on it. She said that they would do a review to see how to improve it, including perhaps changing the date or modifying activities.
The mayor did say that it was a solid first-time event for the city.
“I think that everyone who came out enjoyed it,” she said. “I got a lot of comments from people about doing it next year. The Buffalo Riders kept announcing that they wanted to do it next year. We are definitely going to talk about it.
“Everyone there really enjoyed it.”
Ken Wright, president of the Buffalo Riders of Hampton Roads, said, “It is an overwhelming excitement for the Buffalo Riders today to just be a co-sponsor in this big event that we are having today for the community of Franklin, Virginia. Being a community-oriented club, we are always looking for things that we can do to keep alive the mission of not only the black cowboy but the Buffalo Soldiers that were in the army in the 9th and 10th cavalry of the Buffalo Soldiers that fought in the Army that was formed in 1866.”
The Buffalo Riders had horse and pony riding for youth and adults during the event that allowed many first time riders to enjoy that experience of running a horse.
The event went further in having a main stage that featured live entertainment during the day. Kicking it off was the 195th U.S. Army band. Next up later that afternoon was some down home country music with the up-and-coming Dave Cynar Band. Cooling it down and closing out the day with some R&B, foot stomping and oldies but goodies sound from the MVP Band.
In all, the day proved to be very successful and enjoyable to those who attended.
Managing Editor Cain Madden contributed to this report.