By Aila Boyd

The Sestercentennial Anniversary Committee, which is charged with coordinating the 250th anniversary celebration of the founding of Botetourt County that is scheduled for 2020, updated the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday on its progress in planning the celebration.

Donna Vaughn, co-chair of the steering committee to celebrate Botetourt County’s 250th anniversary, updated members of the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday on the progress of the committee.
Photo by Aila Boyd

“It’s an honor to do this,” Donna Vaughn, co-chair of the committee, said. “We’ve had a lot of fun. We’ve met a lot of people in the county we did not know before. There are so many ideas that we’re having a hard time keeping up with them.”

The first countywide celebration is set to take place on February 1, 2020 to celebrate the county’s charter, which was granted on January 31, 1770.

The celebration will be held in the gym at Lord Botetourt High School from 3 to 5 p.m.

Vaughn explained that the decision to hold the celebration on February 1, which is a Saturday, was arrived at due to the fact that having it on a Friday would conflict with basketball season. She added that the decision to hold the celebration at the high school was arrived at due in part to its central location and overabundance of parking spaces.

Although the opening celebration will be during the session of the General Assembly, committee members are hopeful that legislators who represent the county will be able to attend the celebration because it will be on a weekend.

Brett Watts, chief meteorologist at WDBJ7 and a James River High School graduate, will serve as the master of ceremonies for the celebration. Malfourd W. “Bo” Trumbo, a former circuit court judge and state legislator, will be the main speaker.

Members of the Board of Supervisors and county administration are slated to attend and will read from a planned proclamation to commemorate the celebration.

An original song and poem will be composed for the celebration. They will both be shared that day. The original song will be composed under the direction of David Austin and Ted McAllister. In order to generate a poem for the celebration, a contest is planned in the coming months. It will be open to residents throughout the county.

All four of the libraries in the county (Fincastle, Eagle Rock, Buchanan, and Blue Ridge) will display exhibits that highlight the history of the regions that they serve.

A special cake is also planned.

Vaughn noted that it’s still early in the planning phase and that the February 1 event will continue to take shape over the coming weeks and months.

To further commemorate the 250th anniversary of Botetourt County, a special edition souvenir publication is currently being planned. Anita Firebaugh will head the effort. Teresa Reed will provide artistic support.

Advertisements will be sold to partially fund it.

Vaughn explained that it’s her goal for every household in the county to have a copy of the publication.

Ed McCoy will also author a book on the history of the county. A book-signing event will likely take place in the late summer or early fall of next year.

A logo design contest concluded last month to determine the official logo for the sestercentennial. The contest was open to students at Botetourt County Public Schools and students who are home-schooled. Hazel Bowers, Teresa Reed, and Mark Woodie, all local artists, judged the entries. The winning design will be announced today, with the winning designer receiving a $250 prize from The Bank of Fincastle.

Lectures on the history of the county, sponsored by the Botetourt County Historical Society, are also slated to take place throughout the course of the year.

“We’re trying to work on the types of celebrations that will be historical, entertaining, and interesting to all of our citizens,” Vaughn said. “We’re working to make sure we include citizens of all ages in our celebrations.”

Other efforts to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the county include:

  • A genealogy fair, Genealogy 2020, is currently being planned by genealogists at the Fincastle Library.
  • The 250th anniversary of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church will also be in 2020.
  • National Garden Club Week will take place on April 25, 2020. The Garden Club of Virginia will conduct several open houses and garden tours over the course of the week.
  • A quality living history program, which will portray life on the Virginia frontier during the mid-to-late 18th century, will be held in the early spring of 2020 by the Fincastle/Montgomery County Militia.
  • A celebration will take place in the late spring or early summer of 2020 at the Botetourt County Courthouse. During the celebration, a monument to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the will be unveiled. There will be music, food, and period dress. Also, the courthouse and the Botetourt County History Museum will be open to visitors.

“We’re really excited about everything,” Vaughn said.

“Thank you so much for all that you’re doing,” Billy Martin, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said to the committee.

An organizational meeting was held on Saturday at the Fincastle United Methodist Church Family Life Center to establish a volunteer base and generate additional ideas.

In order to ensure countywide participation, the members of the committee are planning to attend town council meetings for the Town of Fincastle, the Town of Buchanan, and the Town of Troutville in the near future.

Vaughn, Lois Switzer, Angela Coon, and Wendy Wingo serve as co-chairs of the committee.

“They have been working diligently for the past two to three months,” Cody Sexton, the liaison between county administration and the committee, said of the co-chairs.