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Festival to offer chances to gripe

Officials will field complaints for $1

By Preston Knight - pknight@nvdaily.com

NEW MARKET -- Nothing is as timeless as griping about the weather.

The threat of inclement weather led the New Market Area Chamber of Commerce to move the town's annual festival, Heritage Days, from October to August last year. Larry Orebaugh, a chamber co-president this year, said attendance dropped off in the first year with the new date and, ideally, he'd like to see the event held in the fall, when tourist numbers increase because of fall foliage.

"Hopefully, people get used to the August date," he said.

And if they don't, they can complain about it, and the weather, to Mayor Larry Smith and Town Manager Chris Boies at the 15th annual Heritage Days Saturday and Sunday.

A "gripe" booth, based on a similar service offered by Lucy Van Pelt in the "Peanuts" comic strip, will feature the two town officials accepting complaints and compliments from residents and tourists for $1 throughout the weekend. The booth will be set up near the office of attorney Jim Weissenborn, at 9404 S. Congress St., and comments will cost $1, with all proceeds going to the New Market Area Library.

Smith said his wife came up with the idea, which was introduced during the town's July Fourth celebration. He said $24 was raised.

"I ran on a communication platform," Smith said. "I try to give everyone the opportunity to talk. ... We're hoping to get some good comments. We can't solve all the problems, but if we know there is a problem, we sure can give it attention."

This year's event brings back all of the customary Heritage Days attractions -- crafts, entertainment, food, limited edition pottery, a 50/50 raffle and parade. The parade, at 1 p.m. Saturday, will feature resident Henry Buhl as grand marshal, organizers said.

The Valley Cruisers of Harrisonburg, co-sponsors of the event, will be downtown on Saturday and at Rebel Park for a cruise-in show Sunday, with more than 150 antique cars expected, the chamber's Web site states. Walking tours, led by Betty Karol Wilson, will be available Saturday, and there will be bluegrass and gospel music from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and a performance by the S & N School of Music & Art, of Luray, from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Musicians will perform at the SunTrust parking lot.

Orebaugh said more than 20 craft vendors are lined up to attend. Judy Delaughter, also a chamber co-president, said nine food vendors are scheduled to be present.

"We always have a large variety of food," she said.

And, beginning this year, gripes as well. Smith, though, said most comments about the town July 4 were positive.

"They literally had to think of something negative," he said.

For more information about this weekend, contact the chamber at 740-3212.

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