Farmington makes plans for 200th anniversary

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published November 8, 2023


FARMINGTON — Next year, the city of Farmington is set to turn 200 years old, and officials don’t intend to let that milestone go unnoticed.

A series of events recognizing Farmington’s bicentennial are in the works.

Earlier this year, Farmington’s City Council approved a steering committee to help come up with some ideas for the anniversary.

“Probably about four or five months ago we all looked at the calendar together and realized that 1824 is on our front city sign there and wanted to do something to celebrate,” said Farmington Mayor Sara Bowman. “So that was sort of the precursor to (the) creation of a steering committee. … We really want this to be something that is citizen-driven so that we are celebrating what makes Farmington so special, and that’s the community and the personal relationships, and how we have all come together and changed with the city of Farmington — so, to celebrate its history, as well as acknowledge the changes and growth that we’ve experienced.”

Although not all of the plans have been cemented, what is known is how the city intends to kick off the bicentennial.

“The last handful of years we’ve done a New Year’s eve ball drop at the ice rink in downtown Farmington at Riley Park,” Bowman said. “The city creates a big, kind (of) New York City-style ball drop. There’s skating and different New Year’s activities. And this year, we’re incorporating the 200-year celebration with that as our kickoff event.”

Farmington City Council member Maria Taylor is the council liaison to the Farmington Bicentennial Steering Committee.

“We’re starting off the celebration the second 2024 begins, and over the rest of the year we are going to incorporate bicentennial elements into everything we already do,” Taylor said.

Melissa Andrade is an assistant to the city manager for Farmington. She was appointed to be part of the steering committee. Part of her role is to help with the initial event, which is titled, “Harry Potter and the Bicentennial Skate.”

“We’re going to use that event … to ring in the new year,” Andrade said. “We’re going to try to create a ball for the ball drop that has 200 on it to let everyone know that Farmington is celebrating its 200th year. … It’s such a cool event. What happens is our Public Safety Department uses the ladder truck, and we lower the ball from the top of the ladder truck.”

Andrade said that the “bicentennial bash” is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve and go until midnight.

Chris Halas is on the promotions committee for Farmington’s Downtown Development Authority. He is assisting with communication efforts for the city’s 200-year anniversary.

“What we’ve done is take a look at what characterizes what Farmington’s all about,” Halas said. “It has a welcoming nature as a community that’s come to define who we are for the past 200 years, and we’re looking at this moment to amplify that, celebrate that, to show appreciation for that. … The welcoming nature is going to find its way across all events that we do.”

Those who like the idea of a bicentennial celebration have more than just one option to choose from.

“We’re not talking about a one-time, one-day, one-and-done. We’re talking about a sustaining celebration that invites, celebrates and drives awareness of what the future of Farmington is going to be all about,” Halas said.

Taylor shared some specific examples.

“A couple examples are, for the Founders Festival, we’re going to make the parade a decades parade – so people can sign up for different decades, and have every decade since, like, 1800 represented in the parade,” she said. “For Ladies Night Out, Kitchen Creations, one of our local businesses, is going to try and set a Guinness Book of World Records by frosting 200 cupcakes, all in one location.”

The Founders Festival, Art on the Grand and the Harvest Moon Festival are a few of the events that are set to have a bicentennial theme.

“Everything that you know and love about Farmington is going to be amplified that much more,” Halas said.

Andrade said that the bicentennial committee has planned a whole year of events.

“They actually have a calendar of different events, and there will be a specific bicentennial gala, probably held at the Governor Warner Mansion, and a lot of other things,” she said. “So, they’re tying in to the ice rink, they’re tying in to Founders Festival, making it a festive year that celebrates the milestone for Farmington.”

Other announcements could be yet to come.

“Stay tuned, because there might be some things that you’ve never seen before in Farmington,” Halas said.

Given how serious some of the issues are that Taylor deals with as a City Council member, for her, it has been enjoyable to include being the council liaison to the Farmington Bicentennial Steering Committee in the mix.

“It’s always nice to have an opportunity to do something fun, joyous and celebratory, so I’m really glad that I get to be a part of putting together this really fun year,” she said. “I think when you see something every day, it’s easy to overlook what makes it so special.”

Taylor shared what has been one of her favorite ideas for the bicentennial celebration.

“I’m most excited for a postcards project, called ‘Love Letters to Farmington,’” she said. “That’s based on something Ypsilanti did for its bicentennial a couple years ago. We’re going to have postcards around the city at designated areas and events … where people can come up, get a postcard, get a marker, and write what they love best about Farmington … good memories from growing up in Farmington.”

Taylor expects there to be a dedicated bicentennial page on the city’s website before next year.

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It might be hard for residents to miss that 2024 represents something special for the city of Farmington.

“Our goal is that by the end of the year, everyone will know that this is a special year, however they choose to communicate, whether it’s on social media, in person, walking through the downtown — they’ll see the banners, or they’ll see posts on social media, or maybe even just going into one of the local restaurants,” Taylor said.

According to Taylor, Farmington’s City Council approved $49,000 for the Farmington Bicentennial Steering Committee’s budget.

The committee is set to debut merchandise to coincide with the bicentennial at the Holly Days Farmers Market, which is scheduled for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 2.

Bowman shared a message for residents.

“I think this is a really great time to get to know who we are and where we came from as a city, and I think that’s something that will help feel much more engaged and connected to the place that they’ve chosen to live,” she said.