April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

50th annual Hope Heritage Days planning for largest crowd

By By Jennifer [email protected]

Area residents are encouraged to make plans now to attend the 50th Annual Hope Heritage Days on the Hope town Square later this month.

Holding true to tradition, this year's festival promises to rival - if not surpass - festivals past.

Chuck Caldwell, vice president of the festival of Heritage of Hope and the festival and bandstand division, says the three-day festival brought an estimated 30,000 people to the town that has a population of a little more than 2,000 people.

"Quite honestly, it is like a homecoming weekend," Caldwell says. "Anyone who has ever lived around here tries to come home that weekend. Part of it is we have gained a reputation over the years that we are a very family-friendly festival and we have a little something for everyone."

The festival kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday with the opening of all vendor booths, Caldwell says. As in previous years, there will be a gospel sing featuring Brian Free & Assurance at Hauser High School Gym from 7 to 9 p.m.

Musical entertainment near the Square will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. on the bandstand with performances by The Jackson Way and Sand Creek Soul, who will close out the evening.

Booths reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and the day is filled with a wide range of activities for children and adults of all ages.

The annual Heritage Classic Cross Country meet kicks off the day's activities at 9 a.m. and is followed by a Heritage Days favorite, Caldwell says.

This year will see the return of the horseshoe pitching tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday, Caldwell says. Registration will take place on site and the fee is $5 per person, he says.

"We haven't had it for several years now," he says. "It will take place just outside the Square either behind the fire station or utility building."

Additional activities on Saturday include demonstrations by Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators at the bandstand at noon and 1 p.m. Visitors may also check out the Dr. Hope Medicine Show and Kiddie Tractor Pull throughout the afternoon.

As the sun starts to set, the party is just getting started as the Main Stage on Jackson Street and Bandstand are set to host a variety of musical talent from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Slated to perform are Catfish Davis and Sounds of Summer.

Sunday features a worship service at the bandstand at 9 a.m. and the remainder of the day offers a variety of activities, including the annually fly over and parade beginning at 2:15 p.m., and will close with a performance by Gordon Bonham at the bandstand at 3:30 pm. and closing prayer at 5 p.m.

"The festival is unique in that we open with God and close with God," Caldwell says.

Vendor spots for the 50th annual festival have sold out, Caldwell says. Of the more than 100 booths nearly two dozen will be located inside the square - all of which are affiliated with non-profit organizations within and around Hope, like the Cub Scouts, the Community Center of Hope, and FFA - and offer delicious foods and sweet treats.

The success of the festival over the years is a testament to the popularity of the surprising little town. As the town continues to grow, people keep coming back, says Jake Miller, president of the Hope Chamber of Commerce.

Although the Hope Chamber of Commerce won't have its own booth at this year's festival, its members are all actively engaged with other groups or individually, Miller says.

"A lot of people who live in Hope and own businesses and participate in organizations are actively doing something during heritage days," Miller says. "It definitely helps develop a sense of community with everyone banding together and working to support the community."

As a life-long resident of Hope, Miller says his favorite part of Heritage Days as a child was walking around visiting the vendors and, of course, the food.

"Now, I get to take my kids to the square now and let them experience heritage days the way I did when I was little," Miller says. "It's passing it off to future generations."

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