Newtown Heritage Festival History
The Newtown Festival started in 1993 to commemorate Stephens City’s heritage and to bring community awareness back to the Town. The purpose of the festival, (and still is) is to bring the community together to learn and honor the long history of the village once known as Newtown.
A group of local citizens came together with a thousand dollar donation from the Town to organize a successful and enthusiastic festival under the leadership of Tootie Rinker, first festival president. Many other community leaders and volunteers’ lent a hand to make the first festival a success. The local schools also supported the festival by participating and creating floats and displays.
In the weeks before the first of Newtown Festival parade to be held on Main Street, everyone in Town was busy planting flowers, painting, sweeping sidewalks and sprucing up the Town in anticipation. Many people and businesses from the Town and surrounding area were involved by either actively participating or through monetary donations.
The display of a wagon train featuring many old time wagons and carts was homage to the very industry that the Town is best known for. It was amazing to see these wagons on display that came out of barns and sheds those families had passed down from generation to generation. Along with the arts and crafts, another part of the festival that was unique to the Town was the displays in storefronts windows and small museums on local history organized just for the weekend event. The items on display came from people’s attics, barns and sheds. Local citizens were proud to display their family history items and artifacts.
The festival brings citizens together and creates a new awareness of community pride that continues today whether they are long time citizens or new to the area. Over the years, the Festival has changed, but the purpose remains the same. The Newtown Heritage Festival is a celebration of “our” Heritage, and is small town America at its best!