- 1 of 2 Photos | View More Photos
Residents in the southeastern part of Stark County are excited to celebrate a historic milestone. That’s because East Sparta, Pike Township and Sandyville will mark their 200th birthday this year.
Instead of just enjoying one day to eat a birthday cake, the three communities have planned several events during the summer and fall months to look back on the history of their towns.
Organizers have been on planning committees for several years to prepare for the events and they look forward to see what is in store.
“Our 200th year planning started at least five years earlier,” said Kay Weisen, who serves as the president of the Pike Township Historical Society. “I joined about half way through that time. My thinking was that it was an important milestone for our area and I should help out in any way I could. I know two hundred years is not long for England, Europe of Asia and even the east coast of our country, but here, we were the frontier of a new nation. I think that is important to celebrate.”
Phyllis Strad has been working with the bicentennial executive committee since 2009.
“We are so excited to see it all come together,” Strad said. “We are planning fun for the whole family. I’m very proud of our Pike Township subcommittee and the support they are giving Kay and I with the coming events.”
The celebration began on March 21 with a kickoff event at Sandy Valley High School where youngsters took part in a kid fest during the day and adults joined the fun later for a dinner and dance. It got the juices flowing for what is still to come.
The summer events start with Log Cabin Day on June 20. It features the historic log cabin off Westbrook Street which is visible from state route 800. Each year, the Pike Township Historical Society displays artifacts from the area throughout the cabin for visitors to peruse.
Last year, visitors to the Log Cabin Day saw items from as early as the 1800s and as late as the 1980s. One of them was a discharge letter for Franklin Newhouse. He was part of the Jacob Flores Company in the Civil War.
Weisen said one of the exhibits this year will feature a Red Cross volunteer dress. It was owned and worn by Marian Conrad of East Sparta from the 1940s.
“We will be choosing different pictures from the ones we used last year of the Pike Township area, including farms and buildings and people,” Weisen added. “We would like to have more pictures of people who formerly lived here.”
Visitors to Log Cabin Day will also be able to enjoy pulled pork sandwiches, chips and cupcakes along with soft drinks and bottled water which will be available to purchase.
After Log Cabin Day, the bicentennial celebration continues with the East Sparta Homecoming June 25-27.
The annual three-day event includes traditional carnival rides and concessions. The festival also features a parade, entertainment and presentation for the Person of the Year in East Sparta.
A month after the homecoming, the town of Sandyville will keep things going with a chicken barbecue.
On Sept. 26, Pike Township will host another part of the celebration beginning with a driving tour. Following lunch that day, the Daughters of the American Revolution will perform a grave marking ceremony. The ceremony will be held for Revolutionary soldier George Fetters, whose grave is in the East Sparta Cemetery. It will include speakers and uniformed soldiers.
A group of re-enactors of the American Revolutionary War will be at the log cabin in East Sparta. Jeremy Meier will also portray Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in costume. Perrt was the commander of the war of 1812. Part of that happened on Lake Erie three years before the East Sparta, Pike Township and Sandyville area was founded. Meier’s portrayal will include a question and answer session.
Festivities for the bicentennial conclude toward the end of the year. The Sandy Valley community holiday parade will be held in East Sparta on the morning of Nov. 21. The annual holiday parade rotates each year between Magnolia, Waynesburg and East Sparta.
The last event is the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in East Sparta, and plans for that event are still in the works.
Strad said she hopes all of the events will encourage residents to take a look to the past.
“We are hoping these events will spark some interest in preserving our past history,” she said, “and will generate energy an interest in making history for the future residents of our area to be proud of. I guess it all comes down to having pride in our area, and for its people.”