Harmar Days

Some new festivities have been added to this year’s Harmar Days Streets Festival taking place this weekend in Marietta’s historic Harmar District.

“We’re trying something brand new on Friday night with ‘Harmar Sings,’ a karaoke contest with cash prizes for the top three finishers,” said festival organizer Chuck Swaney.

He said the contest is open to all.

“Anyone, from ages 6 to 75, can come and belt out their favorite tunes,” Swaney said.

Another new festival addition will be a kickoff barbecue dinner catered by the Busy Bee restaurant that will include pulled pork and all the fixings, plus dessert for $10, and $5 for each additional family member.

The festival moves into full swing Saturday with a Marietta Commandery #50 (Knights Templar) Parade march at 10 a.m., followed at 11 a.m. by one of the annual highlights-the ceremonial opening of the Harmar Railroad Bridge over the Muskingum River.

The 2013 festival marks the 30th anniversary of the Harmar Bridge Company’s founding.

Harmar Bridge Company president Brooks Harper said members of the public are welcome to participate in the bridge turning, and anyone interested should be at the span by 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

“The bridge is turned by hand and it takes at least eight people or more,” he said. “You have to be in reasonably good shape. It takes 22 turns of the gears to open the bridge and 22 more to close it.”

Last year Harper challenged people from the crowd to participate.

“I had not lined up the muscle, but we had enough, including two ladies who helped out,” he said. “I also have a friend from Charleston (W.Va.) and another man from Pittsburgh who watch the papers to see when we’re opening the bridge so they can participate.”

Harper said he’s been among the bridge-turners for 27 years now.

“But I’m more than willing to allow someone else to replace me this year,” he said.

Also on Saturday morning at 10:30, just prior to the bridge opening, a special ceremony is scheduled to take place in the Gateway Pocket Park on the east side of the railroad bridge near the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall on Front Street.

“We’re officially announcing that Marietta has been designated a Main Street Community,” said Jean G. Farmer, executive director of ReStore Marietta.

She said several officials, including Heritage Ohio Executive Director Joyce Barrett, Ohio Rep. Debbie Phillips, Mayor Joe Matthews and the Washington County Commissioners are slated to take part in the ceremony.

“We chose Harmar Days to make the announcement because the Harmar District is now part of Main Street Marietta,” Farmer said.

Other Saturday festival events include crafters, shops, food and on-stage entertainment beginning with The Sundermans at 1 p.m., followed by Donnie’s Line Dancing at 3 p.m. and country rock band Driven at 5 p.m.

From noon to 3 p.m. the festival’s annual apple pie contest will take place.

“If you like baking, why not enter the apple pie contest-the top three pies will be awarded cash prizes,” said Swaney.

The festival continues at 11 a.m. Sunday with the Harmar Classic Car Show.

“Fords, Chevys, imports, hotrods, and many more will be on display along the banks of the Muskingum,” Swaney said. “And during all three days of the festival people are invited to visit all of the shops, museums and restaurants in the Harmar Village area.”

Stage entertainment Sunday starts at 1 p.m. with singer Ruth Sint, followed by High Schools That Rock at 2 p.m., Scott Carnahan at 3 p.m., and Country Fever at 4 p.m.

“The weather looks good this weekend, so we’re hoping for a great turnout all three days,” Swaney said.