Whether the reason was the fireworks, the carnival rides or the Ohio Players, thousands of people showed up to Martinsville Speedway to celebrate Independence Day and the Martinsville and Henry County communities for Celebration 2017.
In its 19th year, the free event is made possible from the donations of more than 60 local business, something that is not lost on attendees.
For Donna Shelton, who is originally from Martinsville, but now calls Greensboro home, seeing the community come together is impressive.
“It’s beautiful,” Shelton said. “It’s a great idea. Jobs are scarce around here and a lot of people are on fixed incomes so to have them come together like this is perfect.”
Antonio Fitzgerald, who lives in Martinsville and brought his kids out to enjoy the day, echoed Shelton’s thoughts.
“It’s such a small town,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s good to see local businesses come together to make sure these kids have fun.”
Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said seeing the smiles on kids’ faces never gets old.
“I love all of Celebration, but the highlight for me is seeing the kids’ faces light up is what this is all about,” Campbell said. “It really says a lot about Martinsville and Henry County when so many businesses, many of whom are competing with each other every day, come together to ensure everyone has a good time.”
While Shelton enjoyed the rides, it was the Ohio Players that brought her out, dancing shoes and all.
“I am so excited,” Shelton said. “It’s good music and flashbacks to the good old days!”
In addition to the rides, Tracy Hinchcliff of the Grace Network estimated there were more than 400 canned food items dropped off to help support their food pantry at a critical time.
“I think it went very well,” she said. “People were steadily bringing it in and it helps a lot.
“I just don’t remember seeing our pantry look this low. In the summertime it traditionally gets low, because people are on vacation and not in the area and the kids are out of school so people who are struggling have more mouths to feed. So it’s a double-edged sword. This has been a real blessing and came a perfect time.”
Sponsors for Celebration 2017 include: Adkins Construction, American Global Logistics, American National Bank, Ameristaff, Appalachian Power, Applied Felts, ARCONIC, Bassett Funeral Home, Bassett Furniture, Bassett Office Supply, BB&T, Beeson Industrial Supply, Blue Ridge Aquaculture, Blue Ridge Bank, Bubba Judy, Burch, Hodges, Stone, Campbell Family Group , Carter Bank & Trust, Carter Machinery, Chamber's Partnership for Economic Development, City of Martinsville, Collinsville Printing, Cool Knobs and Pulls, Cunningham Tire, Debbie's Catering, Dillon Insurance, Eastern Panel, Eastman, Fidelity Bank, First Piedmont, Frith Construction, G.S. Industries, Henry County, Henry County Baptist Association, Henry County Sheriff's Department, Hooker Furniture, J & R Management, King's Mountain Animal Clinic, Lee Sham, Light Electric Company, Martinsville Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville Speedway Children's Foundation, Martinsville City Sheriff’s Office, Memorial Hospital of Martinsville Henry County, Monogram Foods, Multiwall, Nationwide Insurance - Brad Parker Insurance Agency, Nelson Automotive, Nilit America, Ohio Foam, One Hour Martinizing, Pepsi, Sells, Hogg & Associates, CPA's PC, Shenandoah Furniture, Silver Linings Aerial Photography, Southwestern Virginia Gas Company, State Farm, Steve Martin Trenching, Tacoma / Taco Bell, Tarheel Paper & Supply Company, The Greene Company, The Lester Group, The Results Company, TR Properties, ValleyStar Credit Union, Virginia Blower, Virginia Mirror, West Window, Zenith Logistics