September 19, 2023 at 8:25 a.m.

All Roads Lead to Hope: Excitement Builds for 55th Annual HHD Beginning Friday

By JENN WILLHITE | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

All roads lead to Hope this year as the community celebrates the kickoff of the 55th Annual Hope Heritage Days beginning at 5 p.m. Friday on the Hope Town Square.

“It’s been a long process getting everything planned,” says Jake Miller, CEO of Heritage of Hope.

Each year, the HOH board gathers to brainstorm potential themes for the upcoming Heritage Days, Miller explains.

“We just kind of spitball them and toss them out and narrow it down,” he continues. “With all the traction the Yellow Trail Museum has had over the past couple of years, including the opening of the Rural Mail Carrier’s display, we wanted to highlight the Yellow Trail Museum as homage.”

Miller adds that the HOH board felt that this year’s All Roads Lead to Hope-theme was a complimentary nod to what is currently housed in the museum, as well as what helped to build Hope a century ago.

Choosing a grand marshal for this year’s event seemed to be a bit simpler than choosing the theme. As the list of candidates for the honor was filled with amazing Hope-area residents, Miller admits narrowing down the list is always a task.

However, when all was said and done this year, Hope resident June Gilliland was chosen, Miller says.

Nominated by her grandson Brent Berkenstock, the 95-years-young Gilliland’s continued involvement in and commitment to her community made her an easy choice, Miller adds.

“Her commitment to her [sorority] organization, to her family and community just attributes to the type of person she is, so it was a no-brainer for our board,” Miller says. “She was a unanimous pick for Grand Marshal this year.”

Gilliland first moved to the Hope community in 1942 and immediately fell in love with the town and its people – so much so she has continued to live in the area just a stone’s throw from the festivities that will bring thousands to the Town Square this weekend.

“I think it is an honor,” Gilliland says of being chosen. “It was a surprise to me, that’s for sure.”

The 1945 graduate of the former Hope High School says visitors will likely find her at the Kappa Kappa Sigma - RHO Chapter booth this weekend. The sorority’s booth will be one of the nearly two dozen food vendors representative of local nonprofits based out of the Flat Rock and Hawcreek Township who set up shop on inside the Town Square this weekend, Miller says.

“So, the money spent on food items located inside the Square will filter back into our community,” Miller says. “That’s always a big push of ours and a plus for the local community to be able to recycle some of that money spent from individuals who visited the event.”

When it comes to HHD offerings this year, it will be business as usual, organizers say.

As vendors set up on the Town Square, which opens at 5 p.m. Friday, just up State Road 9 at the Hauser High School gym the WYGS Gospel Sing event will begin at 6 p.m. featuring Earnie House & Signature Sound alongside the debut of comedian Mickey Bell.

The bandstand downtown will welcome performances by Hotwired and Wild Bill & the Bruisers at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. respectively.

Saturday will feature a variety of activities, events and performances, including the return of the horseshoe tournament at 10 a.m., presentations by UTOPIA Wildlife Rehabilitators at 12 and 1:30 p.m. on the bandstand, and the return of the Dr. Hope Medicine Show at 12:30 p.m. on Jackson Street.

Boogie shoes aren’t a requirement, but there will be musical performances on the bandstand for about every taste and genre, including appearances by Oddz R at 6 p.m., Jennifer Mlott at 7 p.m. and an Elvis/Michael Jackson Tribute at 8 p.m. with fireworks to follow at 9:30 p.m.

Sunday morning a worship service by the Hope Ministerial Association at 9 a.m. on the bandstand will be offered for all who would like to attend. Shortly afterwards, Sunday’s festivities will be in full swing.

As the vendor booths open at 9 a.m. musical talent returns to the bandstand with Cotton Patch at 12 p.m.  Shortly following the always popular flyover at 2:15 p.m. the Hope Heritage Days Annual Parade led by Grand Marshal Gilliland will begin at 2:30 p.m.

At the time of the writing of this article, float registration for the parade remains open until end of business Wednesday. Currently there are nearly 100 floats committed to the event, Miller says. Those who wish to take part can register via the HHD web site HERE.

Backwoods Bluegrass will close out the 55th Annual HHD entertainment on the bandstand at 3:30 p.m.  and the closing prayer will be offered at 5 p.m. on the bandstand.

“We will be looking for another great year,” Miller says. “Hopefully, we will get the weather to cooperate with us to have a beautiful weekend.”   

Keep up with the latest HHD news via Facebook HERE