What has kept New Albany resident Beckie Knore volunteering for Founders Day year after year since the mid-1990s?

It's the people who come out each spring to visit with neighbors and friends, Knore said.

"I just love seeing the families and the people," she said.

New Albany's annual celebration of its origins -- the community was founded in 1837 -- will be held 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at New Albany Intermediate School, 177 N. High St. The annual parade will begin at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection, 6300 E. Dublin-Granville Road, and end at New Albany Primary School, 87 N. High St.

Admission and parking are free. Several of the lots around the New Albany-Plain Local School District campus will be available. Founders Day will be held rain or shine, and attractions will include concession stands, food trucks and carnival rides. Some rides will be free but some will require tickets that can be purchased at the event for $1.25 per ticket or 20 for $20.

Started by the New Albany-Plain Township Historical Society in 1976 as part of the U.S. bicentennial celebration, the event features the parade and a variety of family-oriented attractions.

Each year, new members of the community attend the event alongside residents who have lived here for generations to create a sort "family reunion," said Nancy Ferguson, a former New Albany mayor and council member.

In good weather, the celebration is the city's best-attended event of the year, she said. Participants, spectators and politicians usually are from northeastern Franklin County and Licking County.

"It's quintessential small-town America at its finest," Ferguson said.

Even though New Albany is evolving -- it gained city status in 2011 with a population of more than 7,700 at that time, but Knore still refers to it as a village because of the close-knit feelings the community evokes for her -- Founders Day has been a staple, Knore said.

"I think as things change in your life, it's comforting to have tradition," she said.

Founders Day typically draws 5,000 to 7,000 people, Knore said.

The grand marshal for this year's parade will be Plain Township Fire Department Chief John Hoovler. The event committee chose Hoovler from a pool of nominations received from residents, Knore said.

Hoovler, who has worked at the fire department since 1994, said he was touched that he was selected.

Founders Day always has been a fun event for the fire department, which participates in the parade and brings a fire-safety trailer and fire trucks to display at the festival portion of the event.

"That's always fun," Hoovler said.

The annual Community Connection Award winner is the the New Albany Food Pantry. As with the grand marshal, the event committee selected the pantry from a pool of recommendations, Knore said.

Pantry organizers are honored to be recognized, said director Susan Keiser-Smith. Last month, the pantry served 250 individuals, and every month those numbers increase, she said. Pantry organizers will participate in the parade and a school bus will be parked in the vendor area of the festival so people can bring donations for the pantry, Keiser-Smith said.

"This will be our second time doing a 'Stuff the Bus' event," she said. "We were amazed by the generosity of the community during our last event."

More information about the event is available at www.newalbanyfoundersday.com.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah

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