RECORD STAFF REPORT
4:03 PM EDT, October 5, 2012
The 1904 vintage National Bank building will be transformed Oct. 13 into the Graw Days' History @ the Bank.
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., The Bank will have an array of horse racing artifacts, prints, racing silks and artwork. In addition, the Graw Days Speaker Series will feature authors, historians and ghost stories.
Following a 10 a.m. opening ceremony, the Speaker Series begins at 10:30 a.m. with Grand Marshall Martha Hopkins and J. William Boniface, who will be sharing the podium.
Martha Hopkins is from Elberton Hill Farm, a family farm, in Darlington, which has bred and raced thoroughbred homebreds for 40 years. It was 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 had two Maryland Million winners, which is the biggest Maryland race after the Preakness. 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 Bonita Farm, also in Darlington, was born Baltimore and is the manager for his family's 400-acre breeding and training facility. All four of his children, and all three daughters-in-law, are active in the family business. Daughter Kim M. Boniface is foreman of the Florida division that winters at Gulfstream Park. Son Billy K. Boniface, who is also the Harford 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 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. Fitzpatrick has lived in Havre de Grace for more than a decade and has become a popular history tour guide. Professionally, he is in the business of consultative selling of stormwater and infrastructure related products to civil engineer, regulators, architects, distributors and contractors.
Following Fitzpatrick with more Havre de Grace history and ghost tales is Dr. Kenneth Unruh, who has a bachelor's degree in geology from the University of Mid-Florida and a bachelor's degree and doctorate 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. He and his wife, Donna, have two daughters, Erika Bankerd and Lisa Ryan. Unruh is a lifelong resident of Havre de Grace. His ancestry on his mother's side is traced back to the War of 1812. His father was raised by the Silver family after his mother, who lived in Norristown, Pa., abandoned him outside town.
At 2:30 p.m and 3:30 p.m, 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.
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 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. The Graw Days Festival commemorates the 100th 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 a transformed Congress Avenue with carnival games, bounce 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 half hour beginning at 11 a.m. Tickets and more information on these tours can be attained at information booths throughout the downtown area the day of the festival.
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.
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