|Posted by danielabanatova on May 30, 2010 at 8:19 PM|
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Belleview celebrates 125 years
By Jackie Alexander
Belleview has grown from the small town it was when Linda Evans moved there in 1970.
"There wasn't even a red light," she said.
Then came the Winn-Dixie. A K-Mart.
"It's just been a tremendous change since 1970," she said.
This year marks the 125th anniversary of Belleview's incorporation, which is being celebrated on Saturday with the annual Founder's Day festival.
The town began around Lake Lillian, when Marion Land and Improvement Co. bought the land.
Belleview, or beautiful view, was named after early setter John Franklin Pelot's daughter.
Voter turnout was better the first election than in recent years: 74 of 100 registered voters cast a ballot.
Today, more than 4,000 people call the City Around the Lake home.
Saturday will be Linda Evans' 40th Founder's Day.
"The people put so much into it," she said. "To me, it's a blessing."
Founder's Day will feature the traditional Miss Belleview pageant, among other pageants.
The all-day family event starts with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Mayor Tammy Moore will present six keys to the city to influential members of the city.
New this year, said Chamber of Commerce's Mariah Chaffin, is a free hot-dog eating contest, reminiscent of Takeru Kobayashi's intestinal feats at Coney Island.
For those more rhythmically inclined, there will be a Guitar Hero tournament. On-site registration is available for both.
The chamber, as well as Sweetbay and RaceTrac gas station, will be urging residents to "shop local" with a giveaway.
Participants can enter receipts from local participating businesses in a raffle for $300 in groceries and gas. There will also be other prizes given away.
Being at home is one reason Evans, who received a key to the city, enjoys living in Belleview.
"When you go to the bank or you go to the store, the people know you," Evans said. "Everybody knows everybody in Belleview ... just about."
The size of the town keeps key recipient Daniela Banatova coming back, despite many trips to show art across the world.
Banatova moved to Belleview about 20 years ago from the Czech Republic.
For the past three years, the Art Club of Belleview, which Banatova founded, has participated in Founder's Day.
"This is something that is growing," she said. "It's something that's bringing back memories and showing how the town is changing."
Chaffin said nearly all residents attend Founder's Day festivities. Some 3,500 people took part last year.
With society growing more sequestered, Founder's Day is a needed technology break, Banatova said.
"It's important for society to get back to enjoying being with each other," she said
Contact Jackie Alexander at 867-4140 or [email protected]