From Havre de Grace Main Street Inc.:
One of the most beautiful buildings in downtown Havre de Grace is the newly restored 1904 First National Bank building which houses the popular La Banque de Fleuve banquet and reception hall. But, on October 13, 2012, the building will be transformed into the Graw Days’ History @ the Bank. From 10 am until 6:00 pm, the Bank will have a large array of horse racing artifacts, prints, racing silks, and artwork. In addition, the Graw Days Speaker Series will have authors, historians, and ghost stories.
The day begins with our first ever Grand Opening Ceremony featuring our “Grand Marshall” Martha Hopkins, well known Harford County horse history, opening remarks by local dignitaries, color guard, and a rousing “bugle call to the races” to begin the festivities.
Dignitaries and our Honorary Chairman will move to the Bank for photographs and autographs in the midst of the historic displays. The Speaker Series begins at 10:30 am with Grand Marshall, Martha Hopkins and William Boniface, Sr. who will be sharing the podium in the Bank.
Martha Hopkins is from Elberton Hill Farm, a family farm, in Darlington, Maryland, which has bred and raced thoroughbred home breds for 40 years. They were primarily a breeding farm for many years. The land has been in the Hopkins family for most of 300 years and the name of the farm has remained the same throughout. The farm has have had two Maryland Million winners, which is the biggest Maryland race after the Preakness. Ms. Hopkins is known for her volunteer activities with such organizations as the Junior League of Baltimore, The Colonial Dames, The House and Garden Pilgrimage, The Harford Hospital, and a local garden club. She published a book entitled White Gloves.
J. William Boniface, from the Bonita Farm, also in Darlington, Maryland was born Baltimore, and is currently the manager for Bonita Farm, the family’s 400-acre, breeding and training facility. All four of their children, and all three daughters-in-law, are active in the family business. Daughter, Kim M., is foreman of the Florida division that winters at Gulfstream Park. Son, William K. (and County Council President), and his wife, Barbara, manage the breeding operation; son, Kevin, is the assistant trainer and his wife, Chris, is an exercise rider; and son, John, is the yearling trainer and his wife, Kim S., is the exercise rider and groom for Ops Smile. Bonita Farm has been located in the Darlington area since 1984. It is home to 47 horses in training, and about 50 mares, some privately owned, some owned by clients.
At 12:30, the Speaker Series shifts to local history with Tom Fitzpatrick, originally from Baltimore, Mr. Fitzpatrick has lived in Havre de Grace for more than a decade and has become a popular history tour guide. Professionally, Mr. Fitzpatrick is the business of consultative selling of storm water and infrastructure related products to civil engineer, regulators, architects, distributors and contractors.
Following Mr. Fitzpatrick with more Havre de Grace history and ghost tales is Dr. Kenneth Unruh, who has a BS in Geology from the University of Mid-Florida and a BS and PhD in Engineering Management from California Coast University. He retired from the Federal Government after 35 years of service. He previously worked as an Urban Land Use Planner for Harford County, Maryland. He and his wife Donna of over 40 years have two daughters – Erika Bankerd and Lisa Ryan. Dr. Unruh is a lifelong resident of Havre de Grace. His ancestry on his mother’s side dates back to the War of 1812. Dr. Unruh’s father was raised by the Silver family after his mother, who lived in Norristown, PA, abandoned him outside town.
At 2:30 pm and 3:30 pm, two authors from distinguished racing families will appear to speak and sign their books. Michael Veitch has been member of a racing family that includes Hall of Fame trainers Sylvester Veitch and John Veitch. He has been a turf writer since 1979 for The Saratogian; for nearly 20 years he has been a trustee and an advisory member of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs. He has served as editor of New York Thoroughbred Magazine, is a member of the Nominating Committees of both the regular and historic review committees of the Hall of Fame and author of the book Foundations of Fame: Nineteenth Century Racing in Saratoga Springs. A second book will be out in a few months.
Patrick Smithwick received a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University in 1973 followed by a Master of Arts in creative writing from Hollins College in 1975. After working in the newspaper business for several years, he began teaching English, philosophy, photography, and journalism at both the high school and collegiate levels. In 1988, he received a master of liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University and in 2000 he received his degree in education for ministry from University of the South. During this time, he taught as well as held the position of director of publications and public relations at two different schools. In addition to Flying Change, just recently released, and Racing My Father, Smithwick has written The Art of Healing: Union Memorial Hospital and Gilman Voices, 1897-1997. He has also written for many publications including Mid-Atlantic Country, The Maryland Horse, Horsemen’s Journal, and The Chronicle of the Horse.
In between speakers, guests are encouraged to roam the Bank and examine the various displays of prints and artifacts, maps and artwork, and a special display donated by Allen J. Fair on the Fox Hill Farm horse, Havre de Grace. Several silent auction items will be include horse racing items.
In celebration of the nostalgic decades between 1912 and 1950, the memorable “Graw Racetrack” is used as a backdrop for everything. Opened in 1912, the Graw Days Festival commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the track and the tremendous impact it had on the community. The festival brings that time back to life through a wide variety of offerings. In addition to all things horse racing, there will also be an antique car show with cars from the Graw Period, historical entertainment at the Old Opera House presented by Tidewater Players featuring such “stars” as W. C. Fields and Mae West.
At the other end of the Festival, will be the “Little Rascals Roundup,” which is really a transformed Congress Avenue with carnival games, bouncy houses, period games and crafts, plus the Little Rascals Stage where children (and teens) will be performing for children with performances every half hour. At this corner, visitors will also find small fee pony rides and carriage rides.
There will also be Historic Walking Tours throughout the day as well as Haunted History Ghost Tours when the evening arrives. Additionally, tours of the original Graw Racetrack will take place on the ½ hour beginning at 11 a.m. Tickets and more information on these tours can be attained at information booths located throughout the downtown area the day of the Festival.
And finally, the newest addition to the Graw Days Festival is the evening event called Graw Days @ Nite. The food tables will pushed to the sidewalks as guests continue to enjoy the food and drinks while dancing on the street to the band, Higher Hands.
Graw Days will wrap up its 5th annual festival at 10 pm. There is something for everyone, both young and old, an era recalled through music, history, and entertainments.