Sestercentennial Committee provides update on progress

Pictured is the official logo, designed by Lauren Rakes, for Botetourt County’s 250th anniversary.

By Aila Boyd


Members of the Sestercentennial Committee, a committee that has been tasked with coordinating the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Botetourt County, briefed the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors on their progress last Tuesday.

Lois Switzer, one of the co-chairs of the committee, provided the briefing.

As part of its planning, an organization meeting was held on March 2 at Fincastle United Methodist Church. The second meeting is coming up on Monday, July 8 at the Fincastle Library from 6-7:30 p.m.

Earlier this year, co-chairs of the committee gave presentations about their efforts to the Fincastle Town Council, the Troutville Town Council, and the Buchanan Town Council. Anniversary events that will feature the uniqueness of those communities are currently being discussed.

It was noted that an official 250th anniversary magazine will likely be released on February 1, 2020 at a kick-off event. The magazine will be authored by local writer Anita Firebaugh. Christine Kelly, a student in Hollins University’s Horizon Program, is providing research assistance for the magazine as part of an internship.

“The official 250th magazine is an effort to include all sections of the county and wrap up over two centuries of information in a small space. Botetourt has a rich history and is an active county still, so this is a big task for a 64-page magazine that will include photos and advertisements. So far, I have been awed by the information I’ve learned about the county’s religious history. We have over 100 active churches of many different denominations operating today. I am grateful that many people have stepped up with information. Unfortunately, with such limited pages we will not be able to please everyone, but we are hoping to get most of the county mentioned, even if only briefly,” Firebaugh said.

In order to fund the magazine, a group of volunteers is currently in the process of selling advertisements.

The Fincastle Library also held a poetry contest in anticipation of the 250th anniversary. The winning poem, which was written by Lynn Kessinger, will be published in the official magazine and read at one of the celebratory events.

Local musicians, including David Austin, Ted McAllister, and Steve Vest, have composed several songs to commemorate the county’s sestercentennial. The songs will be performed at events throughout next year.

An essay contest for high school students, coordinated by Hannah Austin, has been planned for next fall. The essays will focus on historical buildings located in the county.

The logo for the 250th anniversary was selected earlier this year though a contest. Lauren Rakes, a Lord Botetourt High School student, was selected as the winner. She was awarded a $250 prize from The Bank of Fincastle.

Free decals of the logo will be available in the near future.

Some of the events that have been planned include the following:

  • Tours by the Rev. Robert McRae and the Rev. Marina Gopadze of some of the county’s oldest churches on one or two weekends in 2020
  • A lecture sponsored by the Botetourt County Historical Society on Norvel Lee, an African American Olympic boxer from Eagle Rock, by Ken Conklin on February 8, 2020
  • A county-wide anniversary event at the Botetourt County Courthouse, including a monument dedication ceremony, historical craft presentations, music, food, and possibly tours of Fincastle, on May 30, 2020
  • An ice cream supper with special music on July 26, 2020 from 4-6 p.m. at Troutville Baptist Church
  • A car show at The Glebe on September 19, 2020
  • A county-wide anniversary event, including music by a band called Stone Canyon, outdoor activities, food by Pomegranate and Aaron’s Smokehouse, and possibly a book signing by Ed McCoy, on September 20, 2020 at Blue Ridge Vineyard from 2-6 p.m.
  • A quilt show sponsored by the Fincastle Garden Club at the Troutville Church of the Brethren on November 7, 2020

In addition to Switzer, Angela Coon, Donna Vaughn, and Wendy Wingo serve as co-chairs of the committee.

Botetourt County Board of Supervisors Chairman Billy Martin said the “right people are on the committee” and that he knows the anniversary celebrations will be a success.

Dr. Richard Bailey, who represents the Fincastle District, and Dr. Mac Scothorn, who represents the Valley District, thanked the co-chairs for their efforts.

Steve Clinton, who represents the Amsterdam District, commended the progress that has been made, adding that he views the anniversary offerings as being “broad and deep.”

Lois Switzer, a co-chair of the county’s Sestercentennial Committee, provided the Board of Supervisors with an update on the committee’s activities.

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