November 29, 2021

Community celebrates at lakeside in Dryden

Robert Creenan/contributing photographer

Melvin Welch winds up to throw at the dunking booth Saturday during the annual Dryden Lake Festival. Several local organizations participated in the festival.

Six-year-old Alyssa Welch aimed, wound up and threw. Ball one, followed rapidly by two and three.

Eventually, she was out of opportunities and her target still perched over the tank of water.

She ran up to the button and pressed. Splash.

“It reminds me of when I go swimming,” Alyssa said at the annual Dryden Lake Festival on Saturday.

The festival drew neighbors and newcomers to enjoy a relaxing day of old-fashioned fun.

“It’s for anyone who wants to come,” event organizer Kathy Servoss said. “We have a beautiful setting here. It’s a great place to bring the community and county together.”

Blue-green algae prevented activities in Dryden Lake itself, said organizer Monica Knight. The bacterium, called cyanobacteria, is toxic and should be avoided. Past festivals had people taking watercraft out onto the lake, including canoe races.

New to the festival this year were classic field games organized by the Dryden Rotary, including a sack race, a three-legged race, a tug of war and a wheelbarrow race.

Children had stuff to do, too: facepainting, balloon animals and a bounce house. It was the best part of the day for 9-year-old Melvin Welch, Alyssa’s brother.

Groups from outside the town appeared to bring smiles. A dog rescue group, There’s Hope Dog Rescue, allowed visitors to pet and hold 13 dogs available for adoption.

“The dogs were taken from kill shelters in Kentucky and North Carolina,” said Diana Niemi, one of the organizers from There’s Hope. They work with local shelters to help the dogs find a new home.

Others urged visitors to try something new. Donna Atwood, a former Dryden Middle School science teacher, offered finger painting for both children and adults at one of the park’s pavilions. The kids could paint a giraffe while adults could paint a group of geraniums.

Atwood normally has painting classes for charity at the Dryden Veterans of Foreign Wars headquarters, but this is the first time she tried something in an outdoor setting.

“People enjoy getting their hands on it,” Atwood said. “It’s a very tactile experience. I want to bring childhood joy out in creating something.”