Families, organizers enjoy iron festival

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

The request was plaintive, as only a child can make it.

“Please Daddy, can we, puleeze?”

Vanessa Stapleton, 5, of Ironton, spied the inflatable trampolines as she walked along South Third Street Saturday morning with her parents, Tanya and Jason and her brothers, Brandon, who is 8 and Dakota, who is 7. The last day of the annual Ironmaster Days in Ironton was just getting started, with vendors opening the sides of their mobile booths and inflatable toys waiting for someone to pay a little attention to them.

Email newsletter signup

“We came down to find an air conditioner,” Tanya explained. “Our air conditioner went out and with this weather we need a new one. We didn’t know this was going on. We just happened to run into it.”

Now that they had run into it, the kids were hoping that after the folks cut a deal on an air conditioner, they could spend a little time wandering the Ironmaster Days offerings.

Saturday’s activities began with opening ceremonies, at which time the Ironton Business Association, sponsors of the event, awarded retired businessman Ray Howard as its Ironmaster of the year.

“We looked at what he had done in the past and what contributions he gad made to Ironton. He has been doing things for decades, tirelessly, for years and years and we decided he would be the perfect candidate for Ironmaster this year.”

Howard said he was surprised by the honor, but pleased nonetheless.

“I thought they had made a mistake,” he said. “I didn’t know that anything I have ever done was worth all this hullabaloo. But I’m 73 years old. It would be hard to live this long and not have done anything, even if it had been wrong.”

By 11 a.m., little girls in billowy dresses were strutting their stuff at the Ironton City Center. This year’s activities include a baby beauty pageant. Tami Skaggs, of Ironton, brought her 15-month-old daughter, Madison.

“She does pageants,” Mom explained. “We were wanting to try this one because we’ve never done it before.”

The city center was also host to an art show throughout the day, as well as historical interpreter Richard Pawling.

The annual Ironmaster days is meant to both draw people downtown and celebrate the area’s history. The annual event began Thursday and closed Saturday night with live music.