Lots of activities in Windsor

Published 11:40 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Town encourages community events


By Matt Leonard

Staff Writer

WINDSOR — The number of events in Windsor has blossomed in the past few years as the town and local clubs have started parades, a concert series and now a 5K run.

“I think when you have events like these that bring people out, they give you a sense of community and give you pride in the community,” said Town Manager Michael Stallings.

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The town has a history of hosting successful gatherings with the Ruritan’s Pig Pickin’ event that’s been running for 40 years, and the group’s July 4 celebration that began in 1991. But new events have begun filling the calendar on a more regular basis.

Windsor Town Council member Patty Flemming started the town’s Christmas parade when locals wanted to know why smaller areas in Isle of Wight County, such as Zuni, Ivor and Carrsville had their own parade but Windsor did not.

“Smithfield and Franklin had them, obviously, but the smaller communities did, too,” Flemming said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The first year wasn’t very organized, she said, but she brought together the necessary resources. Flemming spent a couple days asking businesses, clubs and churches if they wanted to participate. But the approval process was more “do now and ask for forgiveness later.” She might have mentioned the need for a street closure to the Windsor Police, but she never mentioned it to the town.

“I was stunned that afternoon around 2 o’clock when there were floats on the street,” she said of the nearly 35 floats that lined the street near Farmers Bank in the parade’s first year.

Since the first year, it has run much more smoothly, she said. And the residents’ enthusiasm for the parade, which ends with the town’s Christmas tree lighting, was a surprise as well.

Flemming also played a role, along with Stallings, in creating another of the new events, the summer concert series, now in its third year.

“That was something that other localities around us do and we didn’t have anything like it,” Stallings said.

Smithfield has had a summer concert series, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

“We always wanted something like what Smithfield does for our citizens (in Windsor),” Flemming said.

Attendees sit in the grass by the library and listen to musicians who perform on a gazebo, while local restaurants or organizations sell food. The town tries to do a concert once a month over the summer, but the first two have been rained out this year.

The town was able to find funds in the budget in 2014 for the concerts and “we just started it,” Flemming said.

It would be great if more people could attend, she said. But the event has gown over the years with it attracting its first sponsor this year in Duke Automotive.

One of the most recent events in town, the Run Through the Heart 5K, had its first race on Saturday. About 88 people participated in the 5K and fun run and the events raised more than $4,000, which will go toward the new Windsor Town Center.

The Windsor Town Council held a work session this week to talk about the future of the center and what it could be used for. Flemming said she likes the idea of creating a safe place for seniors and a place for kids to come after school.

Part of the impetus for the Windsor Town Center was a lack of meeting space in that part of Isle of Wight County, as compared with Smithfield and the northern end. The Smithfield Center is used for everything from Smithfield Town Council meetings to weddings.

Not all of the events the town tries out end up as a success, Flemming said. A few years ago, they tried a corn hole event, but the heat took the fun out of it, she said.

But a dedicated group of citizens is going to keep trying things. Windsor Woman’s Club President Mary Lee Willis said younger members in town clubs has resulted in newer events, like the 5K.

Together, the events are an attempt to turn around the town’s reputation.

 “We don’t have anything. Our town is like a dead zone,” Flemming said.  {/mprestriction}