Claremont Day festival Saturday

Henry Helton said 16 years ago he asked Claremont's city council for $250 to hire a band for a community gathering.

Helton, the special events coordinator for the city, said the council granted the money, a fair amount of people showed up to the event and what became Claremont Day has grown each year since.

This year's festival on Main Street begins Saturday at 9 a.m., with comments from Mayor David Morrow and Oxford Elementary School students singing the national anthem.

"It's supposed to be a good day, but the sun does get hot," Helton said. "We'll have plenty of chairs, but if people want to sit in a comfortable lawn chair, bring it on out. We'll have golf carts to take people with handicaps around."

More than 90 vendors have already registered booths for the festival, the first time booths have sold out so soon, said City Manager Doug Barrick.

Booth offerings will include toys, ice cream from an old-fashioned churn, hamburgers, hot dogs, cotton candy and fried apple pies.

"They sell out of those every year," Helton said.

Stage entertainment includes a talent search at 10 a.m., a PETCO pet show at 11 a.m. on the grass in front of city hall and other acts throughout the day. Those acts include the Claremont Gentlemen's Choir, the Claremont Elementary School Chorus, One Voice Trio, Friends of Christ, The Pine Ridge Boys, Joyful Hearts, One Voice Trio and The Anchormen.

Parents can enter their children in a baby parade that begins at 11 a.m. Children from birth to 4 years old can participate, and judging will be divided into three age categories. Every baby will get a certificate for competing, and the top winners will receive gift certificates.

In a Kids Corner activity area near the police station, marionette shows will be staged at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Rides will also be available, and Helton said the nonprofit organizations operating the rides will receive the money from ticket sales.

"We don't want folks to miss Claremont Day," Barrick said. "Come out and enjoy a good time with everyone, take advantage of all the rides and the good food."

Barrick said the new Claremont Hardware and Farm Supply store will open Saturday in downtown. He also said businesses in town plan to be open extended hours and offer specials during the festival.

"More than 5,000 people came out last year," Barrick said. "We're looking to top that number this year."