Video courtesy of WCTV, Micah Leith
When Caleb Ely walked into JT Rogers and Co Drug store in Waynesburg during the late 1800’s, he probably didn’t expect to help start a local tradition. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.
According to rainydayfestival.com, Ely’s observation that the weather was always rainy on July 29, his birthday, caused a pharmacist at the store to start tracking the weather each year for July 29. From there, the day grew into an annual event within the community.
Starting in 1974, the Borough began planning a celebration through the Special Events Commission, which was established specifically to plan the festival.
This year was no different: on July 29, Waynesburg once again hosted the festival. However, the weather was especially rainy this year. Waynesburg was subjected to heavy thunderstorms and a tornado warning that put a significant damper on the festivities, according to Athena Bowman, the special events coordinator for the Waynesburg Borough.
Because the weather prevented parts of the festival from happening, she said that the Special Events Commission decided to host a Rain Day concert in West Park Friday, Sept. 10.
“We had our rain day event on July 29th in monument park. With the weather and the tornado warning and torrential downpour some of our entertainment was not able to finish,” she said.
“Quick Exit wanted to come back and perform and we had to do our fireworks, so we figured we would just have a little small venue to complete that.”
Like Rain Day Festival itself, the concert provided an opportunity for local vendors to sell their items, and Bowman said that there were nine crafters and four food vendors.
Kelly Mackey, one of the vendors and creator of the Carpenter bracelet, said that she was happy with the turnout for both the actual Rain Day festival and the concert.
“This is quite a good turnout, I’ve done a lot of events and this is a nice turnout and at Rain Day it was phenomenal. Even with the rain and tornado threat, I did very well,” she said. “This is the heart of my business since this is all that I do, and so having these opportunities is what gets me out there and I love being in contact with other people.”
According to Mackey, the event gave her a chance to get out and connect with the community. As a Waynesburg native, she said that she was glad to be able to be out supporting her hometown. Josh Sumpter, who was in the audience for the concert, agreed.
“I live pretty close to the parks and it’s just exciting to see things happening in the parks close to the library and close to campus and see the parks being used,” he said. “There’s live music, there’s food, there’s crafts and it’s just exciting to see people gathered here in Waynesburg.”
Quick Exit, the band that performed at the concert, was a major draw for some people. According to Quick Exit’s Facebook page, the band primarily plays rock music from the 1970s to the 1990s. Melinda Delaney, who has been a fan of the band since it formed, was excited to hear them play their cover of “Twilight Zone.”
“I follow that band everywhere they go,” she said.
Because the band’s set during the Rain Day Festival was cut short, Andrew Heisey said that he was excited to see them perform.
“We really missed Quick Exit. We followed them and had gone to a couple of their concerts, so I’m kind of excited that they were able to redo their show,” he said.
Several students were in attendance for the event. Eve o’Sullivan, a junior nursing major at Waynesburg, said that she appreciated that the concert was held so close to the university campus.
“I had a really great time today,” she said. “It’s important that the Waynesburg community holds these events so close to the campus so that it’s accessible to college kids to get out and do stuff in the community.