PENDLETON — Add figuring out a way to mark Pendleton’s 200th anniversary to the lengthy list of things COVID-19 is affecting — but don’t write off the possibility that people will be able to celebrate the town’s milestone together this summer.
“We’re planning ahead,” said Jessica Smith, a member of the town council and bicentennial committee — a.k.a. the 1820 Society — charged with arranging the 200th anniversary efforts. “We know with everything going on right now with the virus and everything, we might have to change gears or mix things up come September, but we’re still planning for the picnic in the park on Sept. 13, which is a Sunday.”
Smith said the event will run from noon to 4 p.m. at the front of Falls Park, in the area around the gazebo and large shelter house.
“We’re looking for people to start being able to come and purchase food, hang out in the park,” she said. “We’re looking for local restaurants and businesses that want to participate to let us know how they want to participate, whether they want to bring food to sell or if they have merchandise they want to sell and set up in the park that afternoon.”
This picnic is the only event the committee plans at this time, Smith said.
Other organizations in town might have events or be doing projects, and the committee still hopes to coordinate those, she said.
“But things have been a little challenging trying to plan and really celebrate the bicentennial with everything going on in the world, but we’re making the best of it.”
She said the committee will monitor local and statewide public health orders and re-evaluate plans as necessary.
“Something we talked about doing was, if we can’t have the event in person, but we still have local restaurants that want to come out and sell food, we can set it up kind of like a drive-thru event,” Smith said.
As the event draws near, the committee will work out details of COVID-19 safety measures, such as the provision of hand sanitizing stations and whether masks will be required.
“We’re going to be looking at all of that very carefully, and if we need to work with the health department, we will, to make sure the event’s safe for everyone,” Smith said. “We’ll obviously still be maintaining the social distancing requirements that are in place at the time of the event.”
Besides the picnic, other plans to celebrate the bicentennial are being considered.
“We’re looking to do some virtual options, with trivia and that sort of thing, as well,” Smith said.
The committee is asking vendors interested in participating in the picnic to notify the committee by July 31. Vendors should email information — including name of organization or business, address, contact person, phone number, email address, description of product or activity, and whether power hookup is needed — to [email protected]
A full-color 9-by-12-inch hardbound book called “A Celebration of Pendleton: 1820-2020 — Then and Now” — is still in the works.
For more than a year and a half, the bicentennial committee has been collecting pictures of and information related to agriculture, buildings, businesses, churches, local events, schools, transportation, and legends and lore.
It is to have at least 96 pages of local content, be printed on glossy, acid-free paper and cost $39.95.
The committee has also been selling space in a patron section of the book; it’s available to Pendleton businesses, churches, families and organizations. Those who purchase a page or half-page will be able to submit photos along with a written history.
“The challenge with the book has been in order to publish the book we needed sponsors and people, businesses and residents to purchase the patron pages … with coronavirus and businesses already suffering from having to be under mandated closures, I don’t want to ask businesses that are already struggling to fork over money for a bicentennial book. I’d much rather figure out a way to highlight local businesses in a way that is going to help them rather than hurt them.
“Another piece of that, too, is trying to go into people’s homes and gather photos or documents for the book; it’s not the most ideal time to be doing that, either.”
Smith said the committee has discussed publishing the book next year, something that had been considered previously to allow coverage of bicentennial events to be included in the book.
“So, it’s kind of an ongoing project for now.”
For details about the book, contact Smith at 765-606-0221 or [email protected].