July 29 will mark the 149th Rain Day in Waynesburg, and the annual Rain Day Festival returns in full force, with a full slate of activities and entertainment for festival-goers.
And yes, festival organizers are hoping for a bit of precipitation.
“We have so much going on. We do want it to rain, that’s what we’re celebrating – it’s rained 116 out of 148 years – but we want it to rain early in the day or later in the evening,” said Athena Bowman, Waynesburg Borough Special Events Coordinator, with a laugh. “Last year we had a torrential downpour and a tornado warning, so we don’t want that.”
The Rain Day Festival features live entertainment throughout the day on two stages, and includes arts and crafts booths, food booths, children’s games, and contests – among them, umbrella decorating, store window, Miss Rain Day, Little Miss Raindrop, Baby Rain Day, and Diaper Derby contests.
Bowman said the musical performances span a variety of genres.
Performers at the Main Stage (in front of Monument Park) and the second stage (at Fountain Park/College Park) include 18 Strings, an acoustic trio that plays bluegrass, British classic rock, country, folk, and Americana; Smoke and Mirrors, which plays classic rock and originals, Curtis and the Shakers, which plays blues and boogie music; The Craigs, an acoustic duo that plays an eclectic mix of covers from the 1920’s to present; Trenton Antil, an indie rock musician; and Tyler Jeffries, a Waynesburg Central High School student.
The headliner is the country music band Buckwild.
A free Kids Zone at Fountain Park features caricaturist Jeff Harris, JMS Balloon Art, two magic shows performed by Magic on the Run, inflatable games including archery and axe throwing, and strolling characters including Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol, Buzz and Woody from Toy Story, and Poppy Troll and Spiderman.
The festival kicks off at 9:50 a.m., with Jeffries performing the National Anthem at the Main Stage.
Festivities continue with the umbrella contest at 10 a.m., followed by the Diaper Derby contest at 10:45 a.m.
The first musical performance of the day, 18 Strings, starts at 10 a.m. American Judo Hapkido Institute performs at noon, followed by the Magic on the Run Show.
Other performances include EQT Rec Center Tumbling and Cheer, and Carmichaels Center for Performing Arts.
At 6 p.m., a moment of silence will be held for Company K, 110th Infantry, 28th Division, a battalion from Waynesburg that lost 17 of 18 men in France during World War I on July 29, 1918.
Award presentations for the window decorating, Baby Rain Day, and other contests will follow the moment of silence.
Additionally, the Jack McCracken Award, presented to person who has served as a humanitarian, civic leader and role model, will be awarded.
The festival concludes with a fireworks display at 8:30 p.m.
The Rain Day mascot, “Wayne Drop,” will roam the festival throughout the day.
And the traditional Hat Day Bet continues, with Rick Sebak, producer at WQED-TV, trying to defy the odds by betting that it won’t rain on Rain Day.
This year, a shuttle service will be provided throughout the day to take festival-goers from their parking spot to Fountain Park.
Bowman thanked the sponsors, volunteers and participants who make Rain Day a special event every year.
She also expressed gratitude for Greene County Boy Scout Troops 1280 and 9280, the official “rain watchers” who gauge rainfall on July 29.
“Without our sponsors, the community organizations, companies and groups who help so much, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do for the event,” said Bowman.
The festival was held online in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year’s events were marred by heavy rain, so Bowman is excited about continuing the unique tradition.
“We’re excited to continue the tradition in the community,” said Bowman. “It’s been 149 years of tracking the rain, and hopefully we’ll hit that 117th mark.”
Note: The Rain Day Festival list of events and activities is available on the festival website at raindayfestival.com and on its Facebook page at Rain Day Festival.