By Sabrina Westfall
The first annual Spring Festival hosted by the Heartbeat of Washington packed Main Street Saturday.
The festival was held in conjunction with the annual Rail Fest, which celebrates the history of the railroad in Daviess County.
Daviess County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Samantha Bobbitt said there were 58 vendors set up down Main Street in Washington, and throughout the day the traffic had been steady.
She explained why the event was important to the downtown merchant organization Heartbeat of Washington.
“It’s to help the downtown be more active and so everyone knows what’s downtown … The Heartbeat of Washington is under the umbrella of the Daviess County Chamber of Commerce and we are trying to get our own 501c3 (non-profit) so we can be separated and we can do different fundraising based on that 501c3 status,” Bobbitt explained.
She added the Rail Fest, down the street near the Train Depot, consisted of events such as games, train rides and a history museum.
A top hat wielding late president was walking the streets of Washington Saturday afternoon during the Rail Fest. The 16th President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Dean Dorrell was spotted in the Daviess County Museum, which was open for the event.
Many of the booths that lined the street were promoting their organizations and selling items to raise funds.
Lacey Inman and her assistant Jessica Hedrick work with special education youth in Washington Junior and Senior High School. They spent Saturday selling items made by students as a fundraiser through the “We Can Store”.
Inman explained the importance of the Functional Skills class.
“We want to empower our students — like I said we do junior high and high school — and after they get out of high school they have to go on to get a job and live as independently as they can, so working on all these jobs and having them ready for the real world,” she explained.
Inman said while this is her first year teaching the program, she has been told in previous years the students have been successful and they have learned so much from program.
“Some of them go out into the community and have different jobs where they clean and they go to the video store and they go to different corporations and work there as well,” Inman said.
She added her students are not the only ones being built up by the class.
“I have so many students that just touch my heart. They honest are the best kids. I learn more from them than I could ever teach to them,” she said.
The Relay for Life Team “Cancer Angels” had a booth set up selling cookies, tupperware and customized wood burning art.
Gloria Stone and Wes Bays explained everybody is affected by cancer in some way, so they take the time to fundraise and work with the Relay for Life in order to do their part.
Bays said he lost his mother to cancer in 1997. Stone added her mother passed away from cancer and her father is currently battling cancer.
“We are all related to cancer patients or survivors and it’s for a good cause,” Stone said.
Monica Glade and terrier-mix Ollie were among volunteers representing Friends for Animals, which fosters out animals with the intentions of adopting them.
“What we do is promote spay, neuter assistance for people who need it, humane education and adopts for animals,” Glade explained.
The organizations hosts and annual Bark in the Park event, with a 5K run and one mile walk. It serves as the groups biggest fundraiser of the year.
They also have dogs for adoption at Orscheln’s on Mondays in Cherry Tree Plaza. Daviess County Friends for Animals can be found on Facebook.
Jade Lyon and the Full Out Tumble and Cheer group out of Jasper were selling fresh lemon shake ups to help offset the cost of event expenses.
“We are raising money for our All-Star Cheerleading team. They travel competively from October to April and it’s a pretty expensive sport, so we try to offset the expense of the parents,” Lyon said.
Her teams have been pretty successful. As a fairly new group, they have had two teams that were US final champions and the youngest junior team was third in the nation.
Cher Elliott was selling Origami Owl products.
Elliott said she had been able to use the Origami Owl product to do a fundraiser for a little boy in Washington with a congenital heart defect, which raised over $1,000.