Wilton Founders Day to celebrate centennial events

Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

WILTON, Iowa–In 1980, Wilton celebrated its first ever Founders Day, commemorating Wilton’s incorporation 100 years earlier in 1880. In talking with her uncle, retired railroad worker and member of the Wilton American Legion and Wilton Historical Society George Leggin, Becky Brisker of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce discovered that in 1922, Wilton held its historic Home Coming Celebration and started its American Legion Post. Wanting to highlight these significant parts of Wilton’s history, this year’s Founders Day will have the theme of 100 Years of Coming Home. Founders Day will take place Aug. 19 and 20 this year in downtown Wilton.

Looking back into Wilton’s history, Brisker learned that in 1888, only eight years after Wilton’s founding, a new railroad line diverted a lot of the traffic that went through Wilton. Consequently, some people moved elsewhere to follow the economic opportunities the railroad offered. In 1922, the City of Wilton invited everyone who had moved away to visit, hosting a series of special events and constructing a larger than life Mother Wilton statue with an archway above it with the inscription, “Welcome home my children.” Because this event shared a centennial with the American Legion, and because of recent interest in reconnecting with one’s roots, Brisker felt that the theme 100 Years of Coming Home set the perfect tone for this years event. She observed, “the past few years have really brought communities together, and I think a renewed sense of wanting to stay local a bit more, a revitalization of that hometown pride.”

Wilton residents or returners who have attended many Founders Days in the past will see some of their favorite activities will take place, including the kids carnival; the alumni play, “The Pony Expresso,” at the Massonic Temple Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m.; and the Eager Beaver Run Saturday morning, among many others. To keep Founders Day fresh for all generations, including kids, Founder Day will feature several exciting new attractions too. Little ones can take part in a big wheel race Friday evening and free games on Saturday following the Eager Beaver one mile kids run. Throughout the weekend, Founders Day will honor those who make Wilton a better place with a Community Difference Makers Ceremony Friday as well as the American Legion Centennial Celebration at their Legion Post, 584, on Saturday. Those who enjoy Founders Day’s annual live music will welcome the addition of a second band Saturday night, which will allow anyone who would like to sit and listen or get up and dance to enjoy music from 4 p.m. until midnight.

True to its theme, this year’s Founders Day will give the residents of Wilton, as well as those who have moved away, a perfect opportunity to come home and enjoy all of the good times and comradery the city has to offer. “Founders Day is for the community–we want everyone to find something in the weekend that is enjoyable and makes them feel closer to the community as a whole,” said Brisker. “I am looking forward to the opportunity Founders Day gives people to get out in their own back yard and enjoy a weekend of family entertainment,” she added. “A lot of alumni and former residents come back to Wilton specifically on Founders Day weekend because they know many others will be as well.”

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