• 55°

Clouds part, Lawrence Countians spend weekend in variety of ways

Blocks and blocks of fun - literally.

Throughout Ironton Saturday, residents and visitors could almost tour the city one festival or event at a time. In some areas streets were closed to make room for Memorial Day weekend activities that brought the community together for recreation, the arts history - and city tradition.

The first Memorial Day Weekend Art Exhibit, sponsored by the Tri-State Artistic Friends, drew more than 100 entries and countless visitors to the Ironton City Center. TSAF Treasurer Helen Sellers said the art show was a bigger success than organization members had anticipated and they were pleased with the community's response.

"The mayor (John Elam) is ecstatic," Sellars said. "He wants us to do it again next year."

The art show was Elam's idea. He wanted to sell prints of a painting by local artist Cristianne Murphy to raise money for the Ironton Port Authority.Murphy is the TSAF president.

The artists' organization decided to keep the momentum going with an art show that would also showcase and encourage area talent. More than $600 in prize money and several dozens ribbons were handed out in several categories for professional, non-professional and student artists.

"We've had an excellent turnout, particularly from students," Murphy said. "I think we'll have an even better turnout next year."

Several blocks away, the grounds of the Lawrence County Historical Museum were transformed into a scene from another era.

Ladies in long, ruffled dresses and aprons served up beans cooked over an open fire while men in Civil War period costumes strolled across the lawn.

This was the third year for Camp Ironton. Under tents on the museum lawn, dulcimers, Civil War-era items and hand-made dolls were lined up on tables, enticing passersby to have a peek at yesterday's treasures.

John Layne of Forestdale made his way along the rows of items under the tents.

"I heard about this and just wanted to stop and see it," he said.

Lawrence County Historical Museum President Pat Arrington said the idea was to remind people of the area's history and its role as an encampment during the Civil War.

Arrington said she also hoped that young people who visited Camp Ironton would appreciate the modern conveniences they have today that did not exist then.

"They didn't have it easy," Arrington said. "They didn't have bathrooms, radios, televisions. They ate simple foods. Life was different then."

Another few blocks away, the annual Charity Fair drew hundreds of people and served as both fund-raiser for the Ironton Catholic schools and a traditional kick-off-to-summer festival.

"Things are going quite well," said Barb Blair, one of the four co-chairs for the Charity Fair. "We've had good weather, and a lot of new things for the kids this year. The crowd has been pretty good so far. But the biggest turnout will be between 8 and 11 (p.m.). That's when we have a live band. People come for the music."

While

children bounced on inflatable amusements, adults wandered among the tents of hand-made goods and rows of food vendors.

"We come every year," Jim Clay, of Ironton, said. "I've been coming to Charity Fair since I was a kid."

Another few blocks away, crowds gathered on bleachers to watch the action on the basketball court at the Ninth Street playground.

Operation Kids: Memorial Day Weekend Celebration is a return to tradition.

Operation Be Proud used to sponsor the annual tournament. When that organization went out of existence a few years ago, the tournament was put on hold. This year, with New Jerusalem Christian Center and Diamonds in the Dirt, Inc. as sponsors, the tournament continued, which pleased Monique Brown, of Ironton.

"This is a good turnout," she said. "This is tradition."

While adults and older kids shot hoops, some of the younger kids

tried their hand at the duck pond and other games in hopes to taking home a prize.

Six-year-old Elijah Adams found a way to cool off that did not have a thing to do with basketball.

Adams stalked people to surprise with his water squirt gun.

Asked if he was getting anyone wet, Adams first looked serious and shook his head no. As people passed him, he grinned, gave off a stream of water and then admitted "Yeah."

Be it squirt gun, basketball or a turn on an inflatable amusement, Kendall Morris, member of New Jerusalem Christian Center, said the point of the weekend-long event was wholesome family fun.

"I love working with the kids and that's what this is all about. We want them to have something positive to do," she said.