PHOTO GALLERY: Annual Dogwood Festival’s tradition of caring returns to Phoenixville

Wyatt Erb, Elizabeth Erb, Julie Farris and Alexis Farris hang on while enjoying a ride at the Dogwood Festival in Phoenixville May 17.
Wyatt Erb, Elizabeth Erb, Julie Farris and Alexis Farris hang on while enjoying a ride at the Dogwood Festival in Phoenixville May 17. Barry Taglieber — For Digital First Media
Ahmir Baylis and Annalise Yosko are crowned prince and princess at the Dogwood Festival in Phoenixville May 17. With them is 2017 Dogwood Queen Gabrelle Schmale.
Ahmir Baylis and Annalise Yosko are crowned prince and princess at the Dogwood Festival in Phoenixville May 17. With them is 2017 Dogwood Queen Gabrelle Schmale. Barry Taglieber — For Digital First Media

PHOENIXVILLE >> Phoenixville celebrates its 64th annual Dogwood Festival this week as thousands of community members enjoy the popular fair held in Reeves Park. Amusement rides, games and food vendors set up around the park, offering family fun for all to enjoy.

Hosted by the Phoenixville Jaycees each year, the Dogwood Festival honors tradition, community and those who serve in the armed forces. All week long, families from Phoenixville and the surrounding areas attend the fair that includes more than 30 food and vendor booths. Live music is performed on stage each night for additional entertainment. On Saturday, the Dogwood Parade will be held on its regular route in the Borough of Phoenixville.

Click here to see a photo gallery from the festival

Jaycees President Peter Urscheler said the event was created more than 70 years ago to honor those serving in World War II. The Jaycees took over hosting the event after the war when enough young men had returned to create the group. The festival continues to honor tradition and promote community service among Phoenixville’s residents.

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“As a community, it’s a neat way to showcase spring, and it’s also a neat way to celebrate the men and women of [the] armed services,” Urscheler said. “The Dogwood Fest has its routes in being in a caring community. Many people don’t realize we began in 1943 as a way to raise money for the war effort, and we’ve been able to continue that tradition 70-plus years later.”

Proceeds raised at the Dogwood Festival go directly back into the community through several nonprofit groups in Phoenixville. Run by the Jaycees, dozens of volunteers in the community also step up to help with the festival each year.

“The Dogwood Festival supports 15 nonprofit organizations,” Urscheler said. “In addition to the ticket sales, many of the local organizations have food tables set up here, and this is their main fundraiser. This event is not only a lot of fun, but it means a lot to showcase us as a caring community. It means a lot that we have continued this tradition all of these years later.”

Along with food and games vendors, many information booths were set up throughout the park as well. Phoenixville Hospital was one such booth that offered information on healthy eating habits.

“Dogwood is a Phoenixville tradition for so many years. As a member of the community it is important for us to be here. We’re promoting health and wellness and trying to spread the word about all the great stuff happening at the hospital,” said Lori Cunningham, director of marketing and public relations for Phoenixville Hospital.

“It’s a good time to get the kids out and have fun while the weather is beautiful and to support different groups in the community that run fundraisers specifically for the Dogwood Fest,” said Anne Tunnell Reever, a Phoenixville resident who enjoys the fair each year with her two children and husband Anthony.

Kolton Finger, a sixth-grader at Phoenixville Area Middle School, said he looks forward to the festival each year.

“The Dogwood Fest is fun. It’s kid-friendly and for all ages. It’s become a tradition. Instead of going to Hershey Park and spending a lot of money, you can get a wristband for $25 and go on unlimited rides. They have super fun games, and you can win fish. My friends and I go to walk around, play games and hang out. It’s in the center of Phoenixville, and a lot of people can easily go,” Finger said.

New this year was the Dogwood Festival’s partnership with Soroptimist International of Phoenixville for the Dogwood Queen scholarship program. The group created a curriculum based on women’s empowerment for young women in the Dogwood Queen pageant.

“They brought in women leaders and business owners in our community, and they got to interact with all the Dogwood Queen contestants. We are really excited for that relationship to be moving forward and hope to have that in the future,” Urscheler said.

The Dogwood Parade will be held Saturday, May 20. More information is available at dogwood.phoenixvillejayceesfoundation.org.