Founder’s Day brings New Castle community together
Potluck lunch, local history and top hats on display Saturday
In February 1888, New Castle was officially incorporated. And this Saturday, the small town will incorporate mom and pop recipes, local history and even a top hat or two as part of its annual Founder’s Day celebration.
“There is a lot of interesting and surprising history in [New Castle]. And, we think that it is useful for newcomers to town to learn a little bit about it,” Town Councilor Bruce Leland said. “Being a part of the community is knowing where the community came from and this is an opportunity to do that.”
Commemorating roughly 131 years of New Castle history, the town’s annual Founder’s Day celebration will take place this Saturday beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the New Castle Community Center, 423 W. Main St.
“It’s a potluck and all the food is provided by the people who come,” Leland said of the small town’s big day this weekend. “We don’t try to reproduce 1888 food, but we encourage people to bring food that would’ve been popular in earlier times.”
The gamier the food the better, Leland joked. He plans on bringing a meat-and-spice-laden Calico Beans dish.
“We are going to use a couple of old documents,” Leland said. “The Sample family is one of those old families that helped keep things going in New Castle, and Ralph Sample had written a prayer that he used on several public occasions. We found a copy of that.”
Ralph Sample was a lifelong New Castle rancher who passed away in 2003.
“That [prayer] will be read at the beginning of the meal,” Leland said.
Founder’s Day, which brings together locals from all walks of life over a community potluck lunch, also explores the town’s history.
From the February 1896 methane gas explosion in the Vulcan Mine, which tragically took the lives of 49 miners, to President Theodore Roosevelt’s short 1905 speech in New Castle, this year’s installment of Founder’s Day will pay tribute to the town’s founding fathers.
“I am going to read a few selections from the handwritten council minutes from 1888,” Leland explained.
According to Leland, the first New Castle Town Council did not meet solely on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, either.
“The first town council met every day back in 1888,” Leland said. “They had to set up everything from scratch, and so they met daily.”
Leland, a 15-year New Castle resident himself, said that while he expected many of the community’s lifelong residents to partake in Founder’s Day he also hoped this year’s installment would bring out new faces in town, too.
“We always get at least a few people who are new to the town and want to learn something about it,” Leland said.
In addition to a potluck lunch and celebrating New Castle’s history, Founder’s Day also aims to simply bring community members together.
“This is also a social occasion, of course,” Leland added.
While the majority of attendees come for the food, history and to meet fellow community members, some but not all dress up for the historic celebration, too.
“I do,” Leland laughed. “I wear a top hat and the mayor [Art Riddile] will wear a top hat. But, for the most part people just come to eat and socialize.”
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