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Stafford celebration on Saturday features outdoor ice rink

Happy Birthday, Stafford County!

The now 350-year-old county is ready to party all through 2014.

And though you could say the county of just over 130,000 people is getting on in age, the fun will be for all ages.

First up Saturday is the launch of the yearlong series of events celebrating its 350th anniversary.

An outdoor ice-skating rink and a history tent will be two highlights at the event, which runs from noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 4 in the Target parking lot at Stafford Marketplace on Garrisonville Road.

Celebrate Stafford 350, as the first event has been named, will be a free family-oriented program sponsored by the county’s four Lions Clubs. The sponsors will also hold charity drives for gently used eyeglasses, old cellphones, hearing aids and for food donations for SERVE, the Stafford-based food bank.

“It really is going to be a nice event,” said Supervisor Gary Snellings at a recent county meeting. “It’ll be something to remember.”

He said he was at the county’s 300th celebration as a teenager.

“We need to make it just as big or bigger,” said Snellings, who is on the planning committee.

County officials hope thousands celebrate over the course of the day. The event will go on rain or shine, and heaters will be set up to let visitors warm up in some areas.

National company All Year Sports Galaxy will set up a temporary outdoor ice-skating rink that will open at 11:30 a.m. Skates will be available to use for free. Skaters will be allowed about 20 to 30 minutes on the ice.

Bundle up, for the forecast now calls for highs in the 30s.

At noon, a living history tent will open, where local historians and groups will tell stories about Stafford. Participants include the Stafford Historical Society, the Patawomeck Tribe, the Stafford NAACP Branch 7118, and the George Washington Foundation. Resident Jon Bachman’s fossil collection will also be featured.

A subcommittee of the 350th Anniversary Blue Ribbon Commission will also have games and prizes.

The history tent will remain open for the duration of the event.

At 12:30 p.m., “A Tribute to History” begins; it’s a live timeline featuring elementary school students and re-enactors who will tell the story of Stafford and represent historical periods.

Also planned is a time capsule ceremony at 1:15 p.m. Stafford schools will fill cylinders that will be reopened at Stafford’s 400th anniversary—in 2064.

Birthday cake will follow.

A talent show is planned for 2 to 4 p.m., featuring dancers, singers and musicians.

The day rounds out with performances by Elvis Presley—portrayed by impersonator Michael Hoover, and the rock oldies band, The Fabulous Hubcaps.

Thirty-five “history trees” will be set up and decorated by school groups.

Though events will be free, vendors will also be on hand selling food.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975


Keep up with events and news about the yearlong 350th anniversary celebration online at or by emailing Search on Facebook for “Stafford County 350 Anniversary” or look for @StaffordCo350 on Twitter.

May 3: The Founder’s Day Parade will begin at Stafford Hospital and end in the county’s first “History Square” outside of Brooke Point High School.

June 25: The Celebration Stage will open at Pratt Park on Butler Road.

Oct. 18: The annual “Wings and Wheels” event at the Stafford Regional Airport will commemorate Stafford’s military heritage with flight demonstrations, military exhibits and a motorcycle and antique car show.

Nov. 1: The opening of the “Trail to Freedom Tour/Rowser African–American History Wall” will honor the African–American story in Stafford.


A new stage is being built in Pratt Park as part of the 350th-anniversary celebrations and should open June 25, 2014.

The park, off Butler Road, already hosts large events, such as Fourth of July fireworks and sports tournaments. County officials hope the 52- by 23-foot stage will help create a sense of community, as well as pave the way for performances, concerts, movies and theater and dance events.

The “350th Celebration Stage” is planned on an area beside the grass slope below the parking lot, close to parking and restrooms. The slope will allow for informal lawn seating, and act as a natural acoustics barrier, a county spokeswoman said.

Building the amphitheater is expected to cost about $163,000. About $50,000 for the stage will come from the 350th Blue Ribbon Committee, which is planning the yearlong series of events. And the department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities re-allocated funds for two other projects in Pratt Park—$84,000 for the maintenance facility for equipment and $29,000 for a sewer pump station and parking lot expansion. That money will instead be used for engineering, design and construction of the concrete slab and covered stage.


  • Tom Berta

    Well they sure do have a cold day for the start of Stafford 350 year celebration. Enjoy everyone.

  • Liam Skye

    Semiseptcentennial or sesquarcentennial?

  • 4Dana

    Was great fun, did not even mind the ice skating line. Daughter bought a great “350th tee” for $10. The time capsule loading was really neat (did that myself in 6th grade that was opened in 2000). Nice to see local dignitaries out. A great turnout by the public.