Saturday’s final Summer Sunset Series at the Ridgeway Town Park will feature music by Slick Jr. and the Reactors, but the start may be the late Lorna Adkins, who had been a town council member and teacher.
The Summer Sunset Series has had “amazing turnout and support from the community,” Ridgeway Mayor Craig O’Der said. “So far it’s been really successful.”
Adkins taught at Ridgeway Elementary School for more than 30 years and had attended Ridgeway and First United Methodist Churches.
When her husband Caleb “Ace” Adkins died in 2004, she was asked to fill his seat on the Ridgeway Town Council. After that she continued to be elected to the town council, which she served until the time of her death on July 1, 2018.
Adkins, who was 86 when she died, had been “the oldest public servant in Virginia,” O’Der said.
She was part of the group that included O’Der, former Ridgeway Mayor Ed Page and Crosby Hairston “who really tried to get this park developed,” O’Der said, adding that it was “her vision to have a gazebo.”
Adkins, who worked so hard to get the first Summer Sunset Series up and going, died on the very day of the first concert of that series. Saturday night, the gazebo she had wanted for the town will be dedicated in her honor, and state Del. Danny Marshall (R-Danville) will read a resolution in appreciation of her.
The Summer Sunset Series is hosted by the town of Ridgeway, the Ridgeway Branch Library and the town’s fire department and rescue squad. Committee members are O’Der, library branch manager Amy Bunn, local resident Traci Morton, fire chief Cotton Trent, rescue squad captain Travis Pruitt and landscaper C.D. Prillaman.
The town funds it as a line item on the budget, and profits from sales of refreshments are split by the sponsoring organizations, O’Der said.
The series is the fruition of goals town leaders and volunteers had when the town took over what used to be a Jaycees’ park in the mid-2000’s. About five years ago, the town had flood lights and commercial-level electrical outlets installed.
The town held its first Summer Sunset Series last year; like this year, the three-part series had two concerts and one “Family Fun Night.”
O’Der said turnout has been about 300 people – not bad for a town of 736, as counted by the latest U.S. census.
Last year’s event was catered by Joe Hylton, who now operates Hylton’s Wood Cooking Grill in Fieldale during lunch hours, along with still catering events at night. This year’s series is catered by Woody’s Grill, which was opened last year by Woody’s Supermarket in Ridgeway.
Since Woody’s is a Ridgeway tradition, “we definitely wanted to give him the opportunity to help grow his business,” O’Der said, referring to Billy Wheeler, who owns Woody’s with his wife, Angie.
Beer also will be available for purchase. Admission to the concert is free, and organizers recommend bringing lawn chairs.
Slick Jr. and the Reactors will perform at 7-9 p.m. The group plays music inspired by blues artists infused with sounds from classic rock and R&B.
Holly Kozelsky is a writer for the Martinsville Bulletin; contact her at 276-638-8801 ext. 243.