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After years of preparation, the city of Ashland will celebrate its 200th birthday with activities and events all year.
New events and century old traditions were planned for the celebration, most of which will happen during the summer.
The city was founded in 1815 as a dirt road with a little over a dozen log cabin houses. Today, it is the home for over 23,000 people and known as “someplace special.”
Since 2011 a core groups of Ashland leaders and enthusiasts have comprised the bicentennial committee to plan a series of events for the anticipated year.
Their ability to raise $386,000 has surprised them and opened up opportunities for more events than what they had originally planned.
“The response has been far more than we ever thought. The excitement of who we are and where we are as a community is most evident,” said Rick Spreng, chairman of the committee.
The committee decided to amplify existing events like Ashland BalloonFest and have a bicentennial parade during the July 4 weekend.
Some new events will be added throughout the year, heeding community suggestions, such as a beard-growing contest and a beauty pageant.
Not all the money raised is going toward celebratory events. An endowment will be created for the benefit of future community programs with any excess funds.
The big events will start May 15 and 16 with a bicentennial ballet, “An Evening at the Old Opera House,” performed by Ashland Regional Ballet and Opus II Dance Studio.
The 4th of July weekend is traditionally a popular weekend for tourists to come to Ashland with Ashland Balloonfest, parade and fireworks show all taking place during that weekend.
The bicentennial committee is amping up the holiday weekend with a bigger fireworks display, a bicentennial parade and a vintage baseball game.
The weekend will start Thursday, July 2, with a bicentennial queen pageant, a little princess pageant and the annual kick off for Ashland Balloonfest.
For those with plans during the holiday weekend, the committee has planned other events throughout July, including the 16th annual Ashland Chautauqua on July 14 through 18, and a Civil War encampment July 18 and 19.
A community church service will play host to all churches in the area July 28, the same day a time capsule will be buried.
A duathlon — a running and bicycling race — will be Aug. 30 and Ashland Symphony Orchestra will perform Sept. 12 in the new Ashland High School Bob and Jan Archer Auditorium.
For the full list of bicentennial events in Ashland this year go to www.ashland200.com.