The Center of it All
May 3, 2012By Taylor Gramke of Centralia High School Activities
Every town has a square, a place for meeting, fun, and memories. But, it’s the activities that bring the square to life and create tradition for the town and its community.
Throughout the year, one of Centralia’s favorite traditions and biggest events for the past 25 years is the Anchor Festival. It was given the name “Anchor Festival” because Centralia was where the world’s first practical earth anchor was invented in 1912 by Albert Bishop Chance. The need for these anchors occurred after a disastrous ice storm went through the town, causing almost every pole to need to be straightened and re-anchored. Not having time for the regular deadman anchor installations, Mr. Chance invented the anchor that would become known as the “Never Creep,” and this anchor took its first steps toward becoming a new science. In the 1930’s, Mr. Chance purchased the “Wej-Lock” Anchor Company and moved the operations to Centralia, and a little more than 80 years later, the town still celebrates Mr. Chance’s achievement with the Anchor Festival located at the town square.
The festival starts in the early days of June and lasts for three days. Bringing mainly the same cites nearly every year, seeing the typical bumper cars, ferris wheel, scrambler and many more. People will also see the typical craft booths, long food lines and every now and then the young boy trying to impress his girl by throwing a ball and knocking down an object and winning a prize in return. The smells of popcorn, hot dogs, funnel cakes and many other foods fill the air with the aroma of summer and good food. When asked what their favorite part of the experience is, many people reply with similar answers: “There is something for everyone to do--crafts for adults, musical entertainment, and games and rides for the kids.” Another favorite of the festival is the Sunday church service because “it’s open to the public. Anyone can attend without being any certain denomination over the other,” says Sue Finlay, a regular Anchor Festival Sunday Church-goer. The festival also brings hundreds of people to the little town square of Centralia, with many activities such as pie eating contests, car shows, the anchor drive, and multiple other activities to keep everyone occupied for those fun-filled three days. Businesses all over the town close their doors for the festival, leaving friendly messages like “Closed for Anchor Fest!”
That very next month brings the Ringing of the Bells on the Fourth of July. For this, the audience comes together at the square and is given bells to ring; everyone joins in on the ringing and the celebration begins. As a group, the community celebrates that special day all those years ago when our founding fathers approved the Declaration of Independence, giving the United States its freedom from Great Britain. This celebration is also used as a reminder for all those who served in the line of duty, helping us keep our freedom. Coming together as one in the square brings a sense of wholeness to the community. The beautiful sounds of the bells create even more of a joy for the audience and those ringing them.
A couple months down the road October brings another fun tradition, Homecoming! With Homecoming comes the flashlight parade and the Homecoming day parade. The night before the big game, the football players, fellow high schoolers, and the rest of the community follow the boys to the gazebo in the center of the square, and the boys then give a little speech to get everyone pumped up for the game the next day. “The parade seems like the whole community coming together to support the team more so than just getting together on a Friday night. I like listening to Coach Bennett and the boys talk about the team and upcoming games because you sometimes hear him on post game on the radio but you don’t always get to hear him publicly,” says John Gramke, a regular flashlight parade attendee for many years. The community, especially the younger boys who look up to the football players, enjoy this moment of the night. Hearing the senior boys talk gives a sense of excitement. The town lives for Friday nights during football season and this experience gives everyone inspiration for the upcoming football players.
The Centralia town square is a lively place where many activities take place throughout the year, and it will always be used as a meeting ground for many people. For families it is a place to create memories and fun for all the days to come.