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It's post time once again, as Havre de Grace celebrates Graw Days Saturday

Horseplayers look over their selections under the granstand at the Havre de Grace Race Track in May 1950, the track's final meeting.
Horseplayers look over their selections under the granstand at the Havre de Grace Race Track in May 1950, the track's final meeting. (Baltimore Sun Archives, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Havre de Grace will once again pay homage to the bygone era of its former horse racing track with the annual Graw Days celebration on Saturday, Oct. 11.

The ponies haven't set foot on the track at "The Graw" since 1950, but the rich intermingled history of the city and its sporting past remains very much alive, particularly on the second Saturday in October.

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The 2014 Graw Days Fall Festival, celebrating 102 years of racing history in Havre de Grace, is organized by Havre de Grace Main Street Inc. This year's festival is the seventh annual.

The horse racing-themed, downtown festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., features a variety of food from local restaurants and live music all day, with lots of kids games, artisans and crafts people displaying their handicrafts and talents, historic presentations and displays. Local merchants will be open throughout the festival.

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Graw Days represents a colorful time in Havre de Grace's history beginning in 1912 with the construction of the Havre de Grace Race Track, affectionately called "The Graw." The track was considered one of the best racing strips of the American turf and was the main training ground for owners who hoped to win the Kentucky Derby. It also made Havre de Grace a popular stop-off for travelers and gamblers up and down the East Coast.

Man 'O War, Seabiscuit, Exterminator and the Triple Crown Champions Sir Barton and Citation are among the equine immortals that raced at The Graw.

According to organizers, the time frame of the 2014 Graw Days Festival is the Roaring Twenties, the Dirty Thirties and the Fighting Forties, with period music, costumes, a wide variety of foods, outdoor cafe seating, historic displays and artists, crafts people and vendors along downtown streets closed to vehicle traffic.

Havre de Grace Main Street Inc. draws thousands of visitors to this event, which will be held rain or shine. In keeping with the period, the Tidewater Players will present 30-minute musical revues through the decades from 1900 through the 1940s, on the hour, throughout the day, at the Old Opera House on Union Avenue. Admission is free.

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Family-friendly daytime events take place downtown until 6:30 p.m. Local restaurant cafe seating will be available till 9:30 p.m. In partnership with local churches and businesses, Pennington Avenue will be transformed into a children's paradise with a variety of activities, period games and crafts for kids of all ages. In addition, face painting, moon bounces, balloon fun and a special stage will be on the children's street with live music and presentations just for children.

Special daytime tours on The Great American Trolley (from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) will visit the old Graw clubhouse and other points of interest. Ride the trolley all day for just $1. Small-charge tickets for all rides, tours and tournament style games will be sold at ticket booths throughout the festival, as well as at the Main Street pavilion on Pennington Avenue and at the corner of St. John and Franklin streets.

For more information, call 410-939-1811, email admin@mainstreethdg.com or visit mainstreethdg.com.

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