Memory Days volunteers invite everyone to “Come to Grayson to remember and be remembered,” during this year’s 43rd annual festival Thursday through Sunday.
“Almost every little community has its own celebration,” said festival spokesman and longtime volunteer Bob Caummisar, citing past festivals such as Tobacco Days in Sandy Hook.
“Ours, almost significantly, falls on Memorial Day weekend. That was done on purpose, but it has caused some confusion on things like our T-shirts,” Caummisar said with a chuckle, explaining printers several times in the past have mistakenly corrected “Memory Days” to “Memorial Days.” Caummisar said the festival began 43 years ago, in response to an idea suggested by the late Giles Robinson. It also was Robinson who offered the festival’s permanent theme: “Come to Grayson to Remember and be remembered,” Caummisar noted, adding the festival’s annual art in the park show, which is properly known as the Anna Robinson Memorial Art Show, is a tribute to the founder’s mother.
Caummisar said he has been associated with the festival since the early 1970s, when he was a member of the local Jaycees club and helped with the annual horse show, which later became a part of the Memory Days celebration.
“The big three in the early days were the horse show, the art show and the parade. We lost the horse show, but we filled that in with 20 or 30 other things,” he said, adding his personal appreciation for the Grayson Rotary Club’s Mom and Dad contest, which started as an effort by the now-defunct Sunny Club. Caummisar said the parental contest, which awards six people the title of “best” mom or dad, likely has hundreds of nominees. The contest will begin on the merchant’s lot on Main Street in downtown Grayson at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, immediately following opening ceremonies.
Also Thursday, quilts will be on exhibit in the windows at local shops, and the mom and dad contest will be followed by clogging and dancing by members of the Heritage Hoedowners and The Wizards of Dance. An open poetry reading is set to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at Grayson Gallery.
“How many festivals have a poetry contest? I think we are the only one,” Caummisar said.
Thursday’s festivities wrap up with Country Music Night, featuring entertainment by Southern Ground starting at 8:30 p.m., and Dwain Messer from 9:30 to 11 p.m.
Memory Days events continue on Friday with the annual Firemen’s Dinner from 4 to 8 p.m., featuring a menu including chicken and ribs; arts and antiques at Grayson Gallery from 6 to 9 p.m.; and, Classic Rock Night with entertainment by Dreamcult starting at 7:15 p.m., followed by Hung Jury from 8 to 9 p.m. and City Heat from 9 to 11 p.m.
Saturday’s festivities get under way early, with a 5K Race starting at 8:15 a.m. (registration from 7 to 8 a.m.) at the corner of Main and Pomeroy Street, and the annual Anna Robinson Memorial Art Show at city park starting at 9 a.m. A multi-artist show will begin at 10 a.m. inside Grayson Gallery, just as members of Brother John’s Strolling Troubadours hit the street performing their renditions of various folk songs. Health screenings will begin at 10 a.m. at the corner of Main and Hord Street. The Memory Days car show will begin at 9 a.m. on East Main Street at the Prichard Elementary parking lot.
The annual Dog-Jog will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Main and Hord Street. Caummisar said the canine contest always features dogs of all sizes “and weiner dogs,” and is a popular event for those who enjoy the morning’s festivities. Children’s train rides will begin at 10 a.m. along Main Street and continue until 3 p.m., with old-fashioned games on Main Street starting at 11 a.m.
The Memory Days parade is set to kick off at 1 p.m., celebrating the theme “Tradition and Pride,” traveling west to east on Main Street. After the parade, visitors will have a chance to enjoy another new addition to the Memory Days schedule with the Bagby Music Fest. Caummisar said the musical event at Bagby Methodist Church will feature Carter County residents, including a trumpeter, performing patriotic and inspirational music. A talent show is set to begin in the merchant’s lot at 5 p.m., followed by karaoke at 5:45 p.m.
The annual Prichard Reunion will be at 6 p.m., with registration starting one hour earlier, at First Baptist Church Ministry Center at 202 W. Main St. Saturday’s fun concludes with “Bluegrass Ladies Night Out,” featuring two all-female bluegrass music bands. Cincinnati-based Ma Crow and The Lady Slippers are set to take the stage at 6:30 p.m., followed by headliners, Hazel Holler Girls, at 8:30 p.m.
Memory Days 2013 concludes Sunday with dancing in the street by members of The Wizards of Dance at Tres Hermanos Restaurant on East Main Street from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Caummisar said the annual festival has been a hit for visitors who call Grayson their hometown, as well as those who simply visit and enjoy the fellowship of the celebration.
“We have had visitors leave and say, ‘We felt like we walked into a Norman Rockwell print,’” Caummisar said, adding he and many others always make a point of visiting East Carter Memory Gardens during Memory Days.
“Every grave ... EVERY grave is decorated,” he said, adding the cemetery is also the site of numerous spontaneous reunions.
For more information about Memory Days in Grayson, call (606) 474-9522.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at email@example.com.