By Chelsi Baker
Times West Virginian
Now that renovations at Palatine Park are nearing completion, it’s time for people to use the facility.
The Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission will host its Palatine Park F.A.M.E. Festival Series every other weekend this summer from now until the end of September.
“What the (Marion) county commission wanted to do was to develop a park that the city and the county can be very proud of, and they wanted people to come out and use it,” said Bruce Miller of MCPARC. “This is a great way to showcase it and all the great things that are happening in Marion County and in Fairmont.”
The small festivals will each have a different theme and will feature three bands and food vendors, as well as artists and craft vendors, for families in Marion County and surrounding areas.
The series kicked off June 7 with its “’50s, ’60s, ’70s and Cars!” show.
“We had a terrific turnout,” Miller said. “We had about 67 cars ... We had about 250 people stop down at the park to watch the bands perform. It was a beautiful day and evening for the event.”
There will be a “Blues and Bluegrass” show June 21, “Splash Bash” July 19, “Arts in the Park” Aug. 2, “Community Outreach” Aug. 16, “Girl Bands” Aug. 30, “Fall Fest” Sept. 6 and “Garage Bands” Sept. 27.
Each festival runs from 4-9 p.m., and the music will start shortly after 4 p.m.
“We arranged them around sunset, so we wanted to leave before it gets dark,” said Miller. “As the year progresses, when you get into late August and September, they’re going to start a little bit earlier and finish a little bit earlier.”
The largest event, the “Red, White and Boom” presentation on the Fourth of July, will run much later because of the fireworks display.
“We’re looking to do the best fireworks show that Fairmont has ever seen,” Miller said.
The Fourth of July celebration will feature four performers, and the headliner will be Josh Gracin, a country singer who competed on “American Idol.”
Admission for all the events is free, and the festivals are all family friendly.
“Everyone works together,” Miller said. “Your local government, parks and recreation, libraries. Your local businesses as well. That’s when you’re able to cooperatively work together to put these things on.”
Marion County Commission, Heston Farm and Winery, Copper House Grill, FirstEnergy, Pierpont Community & Technical College, Fairmont State University and Thrasher Associates also contributed financially to one or more of the events, among others.
On just about all non-festival Saturdays, there will be movies at the park.
“Ride Along” will show June 14. “Lego Movie” will show July 12, “Divergent” on Aug. 9 and “Robo Cop” on Sept. 6.
All movies are family-friendly, but MCPARC encourages parents to make sure the films are appropriate for their child’s age before attending.
The F.A.M.E. Concert Series and movie nights give people ways to enjoy the park that Miller considers “one of the most beautiful, well-designed waterfront amphitheaters in America,” he said.
He thinks it will be something that brings Marion County together.
“When people gather in an outdoor environment like Palatine Park, you create a really nice atmosphere for people to socialize, listen to really good music, both local and regional,” he said. “They’re really treating their family and friends to something that’s really, really unique.”
Local bands interested in performing in the “Garage Bands” festival Sept. 27, or vendors and artisans interested in being a part of any festival in the series may contact Bruce Miller at 304-669-3181 or go to www.palatineparkfame.com for more information.
Email Chelsi Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.