HomeHampton TimesRevamping tradition

Revamping tradition

New and improved Northampton Day Festival will be held May 6

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Fun in the sun: This year, Northampton Township is hosting its annual Northampton Day on Sunday, May 6, instead of in September. Featuring a talent show, amusements and performances, residents can expect a family-friendly day of activities. Source: Northampton Day Festival

In recent years, the Northampton Day Festival has been struggling to amass the 5,000-person crowd the Township has come to expect. Usually held the second Sunday in September, more residents could be found on their couches cheering on the Eagles rather than the streets for this annual affair.

The festival desperately needed a revamp (and a date that didn’t conflict with the Birds). This year, the Township is switching things up by hosting Northampton Day on Sunday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Richboro Middle School. Featuring a talent show, all-new amusements from J-Dogs and performances from local student bands, Northampton is planning a jam-packed, family friendly day of activities. Excess proceeds will benefit local nonprofits as well as scholarships for graduating Council Rock High School seniors.

Northampton Day has a vast history within the Township that dates to the ’70s. The first celebration, which spanned three to four weekends, was hosted when the now-defunct Richboro Jaycees Club assisted former supervisor Tom Zeuner in organizing the event. Though locals enjoyed activities such as a 10K run, fishing derby and flea market, the event was eventually canceled.

Things changed in 1997 when Fred Stewart was asked by the Township to establish a one-time show and festival for its 275th anniversary. The community was receptive to Northampton Day’s return, and it has been taking place ever since.

Like anything that stretches across multiple decades and generations, certain aspects of the event needed to be adjusted to meet modern-day demands. Northampton’s rebirth began in 2017 when resident Steve Bryer was elected president of the planning committee. As a first-time member, Bryer brought a fresh perspective to the table. His first order of business? Change the date. Not only would May 6 no longer overlap with the start of football season, but local school bands would have ample time (rather than a month) to prepare a performance.

According to committee member Pete Palestina, the next item on the agenda was something easier said than done.

“How do we attract more of the teenage crowd?,” he asked.

To grab the attention of millennials and generation Z, the committee booked a plethora of all-new activities sure to pique their interest, including a mobile zipline and the ever-entertaining bubble soccer. For the first time, multiple stages will feature a variety of local acts such as the band Mid-Life Crisis, the Strolling Mummers, student musicians from the Council Rock School District, and the St. Katharine Drexel School Choir and cheerleaders.

Throughout the day, attendees of all ages can enjoy carnival amusements compliments of J-Dogs — Toxic Drop Obstacle Course, Meltdown Challenge Ride, Hungry Hippo Chowdown Game and Bermuda Blast Slide.

Additional activities include Ultimate Quad Bungee, a Zoo Jersey Animal Show, Arlen Zachary’s A-Z Magic Show, Painting with a Twist, a Kids ID Card Program offered by the Bucks County Sheriff’s Department, a Mills-A-Thon basketball tournament benefiting the Scott Mills Scholarship Fund and a talent show slated to include at least 20 acts.

For the kids, author Charlene Crawford will host two readings of her children’s books, and the popular horses Ziggi and Lark will be available for photographs.

The Heroes Car Show, a longtime Northampton Day staple sponsored by Jamison Collision, will be ongoing throughout the afternoon. The show will be a “People’s Choice,” where guests can vote for their favorite car. Those interested in entering a car can do so for $12.50 in advance or $15 at the door. The winner will receive a plaque, and all proceeds will benefit the Bucks County Heroes Scholarship Fund.

This year’s Northampton Day, according to Palestina, will feature more food vendors than ever before. In addition to cotton candy and other carnival favorites at J-Dogs, attendees can sample sweet, salty and savory treats from The Chilly Banana, Olde City Kettle Corn, Tim’s Barbecue, Rita’s Water Ice, Curly Tail Ice Cream, Pizza Wagon, Nina’s Waffles and Ice Cream, Awesome Little Cupcakes and more.

While a number of aspects of past Northampton Days have fallen to the wayside, including a parade and bocce tournament, a few will always remain. Though it has been shortened from 20 minutes to five, a flag raising ceremony will continue to mark the start of the day at 10 a.m.

The committee also holds fast to its goal of raising excess proceeds, which are donated to local nonprofits and awarded to graduating Council Rock High School seniors. In 2016, Palestina said $200 was given respectively to the Free Library of Northampton Township, the Volunteer Fire Company, Guardians of the National Cemetery and the Northampton Senior Center among several others, totaling $1,600. ••

If you go…

The 2018 Northampton Day Festival will take place Sunday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Richboro Middle School, 98 Upper Holland Road, Richboro. Admission and parking are free. Handicapped parking is available at the Northampton Senior Center, located across the street from the festival. For updates, a full schedule and information on volunteering, visit northamptonday.org, email northamptondayfestival@gmail.com or call Steve Bryer at 215–407–7411.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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