Dinner celebrates Marietta turning 226

No good birthday party is complete without two important things-food and a magic act, of course. And that is exactly what the Washington County Historical Society has planned for its annual celebration of Marietta’s birthday.

The city celebrates its 226th birthday next month with the annual Pioneer Day Community Dinner. The event will be held at the Lafayette Hotel’s Sternwheel Banquet room on April 7-the day the founding citizens landed in 1788, said Ken Finkel, president of the Washington County Historical Society.

In addition to a social hour, silent auction, and dinner, this year’s event will feature a sort of magical history tour of Washington County with a presentation and performance by area magician Kerry Blair.

“There are a lot of magicians that have come from here,” said Finkel.

In the late 1800s, an area magician performed on a barge docked near the Lafayette Hotel. And Marietta magician Tommy Windsor gained national fame in the early to mid-20th century, said Finkel.

“He’s going to do a small presentation on that, showing the magic as it relates to (local) history, and then he’s going to perform some magic,” he said.

Also planned is a silent auction, the money from which will be earmarked for the historical society’s ongoing restoration of The Anchorage.

Numerous area businesses have contributed to this year’s silent auction, which boasts more than 80 items, said historical society board member Dianne Vezza.

“We’ve had a terrific response from businesses and restaurants in Marietta this year. For our economy, I thought it was really great,” she said.

Items include gift certificates to area restaurants, tickets to the Campus Martius Museum, lunch with Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews, and antiques including glassware and jewelry, she said.

Typically between $600 to $900 is raised at the silent auction, said Finkel.

The historical society hopes to hit a major milestone with restoration work this year by getting natural gas installed in the 155-year-old building.

Gas lines to the building were done away with after the site stopped being used as a nursing home decades ago, and getting new access has been a challenge, said Finkel.

“We’ve been fighting for several years to get gas in the place, and it looks like we will get natural gas this year,” he said.

In addition to The Anchorage, the historical society also maintains the Fearing House Museum in Harmar.

Tickets to this year’s dinner cost $25 per person. Tickets must be purchased by April 4 by calling 373-1788 or 373-0359.