Get back to the country this Heritage Festival By Dan Rankin

There are numerous ways to celebrate your rural roots (or routes) within the borders of St. Marys this weekend during the 20th annual Stonetown Heritage Festival. At the St. Marys Farmer’s Market Saturday, July 11 from 8:00 am to 10:30 am, organizers will be holding a pancake breakfast. The meal will include freshly prepared pancakes, Urquhart Farms maple syrup, local sausages and raspebrries, as well as fresh orange juice and Barista’s coffee, said farmer’s market manager Lynette Geddes.
Next Saturday, July 18, joining the seven regular vendors at the farmer’s market will be Forest Hill Orchards, Geddes added. “They’ll be starting out with late cherries, plums and apricots, so we’re looking forward to seeing them,” she said.
From the Jones Street parking lot, festival goers can head north by foot, or, if it’s between the hours of 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, catch a wagon ride with Dwight Bennett and his team of horse, to the Town Hall. Upstairs in the auditorium, the St. Marys Museum will be hosting an exhibit titled “Carved in Stone, Etched in History – a Glimpse Into St Marys’ Past” from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
“There’s going to be photos and interpretative panels from the museum that kind of tell the history of the community,” said museum curator and archives assistant Amy Cubberley. “There will be some on harvest time and the history of agriculture, and the town’s history with limestone will also be emphasized.”
The museum will also be open Saturday afternoon, where vistiors can check out real artifacts from the town’s distinctive 19th and 20th century past.
Then Sunday, after you’ve gotten some rest from Heritage Fest’s Saturday night diversions, there are even more agriculturally-leaning activities planned.
Beginning at noon and running until 3:00 pm is the St. Marys Museum Board’s third annual Roaring Twenties Garden Party on the Museum grounds. Entertainment planned includes garden games, children’s crafts, picnic lunches and live music from Jennifer “Red” Thorpe and her jazz band. “The Rotary Club Inner Wheel Society is doing a period costume photo booth which they have done in previous years,” said Cubberley, encouraging people to dress up for the event. The time to preorder picnic lunches provided by the Cheese Shoppe has passed, however anyone coming is encouraged to bring their own picnic lunch, as lunch tables will be set up outside (or under cover, depending on the weather), she said.
Finally, running from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm Sunday is the St. Marys Horticultural Society’s 27th Annual Garden Tour. This year’s tour involves eight gardens found around St. Marys, representing a variety of flowers, vegetables and styles, horticultural society president Janis Kapp said.
Anyone interested in taking the tour can head to the Town Hall Sunday afternoon where the horticultural society will have a table set up, she said. For $10, adults will get a bracelet pass and map of the eight gardens. Children are free with an adult.
“We try to vary things,” Kapp said. “So, we have a community garden. We have backyard gardens that have ponds, vegetable gardens. Some people are looking for ideas to do in their own garden, they’ll ask the names of plants, or how long a garden has been established; some people want to learn how to incorporate hills into landscaping, all kinds of different things; some people just want to look at the overall effect.”
There’s a “Mystery Plant” contest, that involves tour participants being tasked with naming a specific plant at each garden, Kapp said. A fully-filled out form means a chance at winning a gift certificate.
Kapp commented on the popularity of the event which is older than the Heritage Festival itself. “I look at it as a learning experience,” she said. “You drive around St. Marys and you don’t see peoples’ back yards. You see the front of a house and you have no idea what’s back there. You might find that at a house that looks very manicured at the front, it’s wild and lush at the back. It’s very interesting what people do with their back yards.”
When the Heritage Festival first began, the horticultural society was asked to move their garden tour up a week from when it was formerly held to join in the fun, Kapp said. “I think it’s a natural fit,” she said. “A lot of time with all the parties and stuff that goes on on Saturday night, it’s kind of nice to have a quiet Sunday activity.”