Happy 167th!

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Joe Duncan, curator of exhibits for the Denton County Museum, makes a print of the Courthouse-on-the-Square during the Denton County Birthday Party on Saturday on the downtown square. Duncan created the print from a wood engraving he made.
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The sounds of a strumming banjo and the sights of dogs playing on the courthouse lawn were more than a typical spring Saturday on the Square.

Denton County was celebrating its 167th birthday with a party for young and old alike.

“People thought I was crazy wanting to do something for the 167th,” said Peggy Capps, chairwoman of the museum committee. “I just wanted to throw a little party and have fun.”

Capps said by no means was she ever trying to compete with the much larger and known Denton events, including the upcoming Denton Arts & Jazz Festival. She said she just thought it was important to celebrate the day “we” became a county — April 11, 1846.

Festivities included arts and crafts for children, live music, history quizzes and a silent auction to benefit the nonprofit organization.

One of the main attractions was a 1935 Peter Pirsch firetruck on display. The truck was purchased new by the city of Denton in 1935, said Lee Capps, chairman of the firetruck committee for the Denton County Historical Commission.

He said children love going inside and ringing the bell.

“It’s [the firetruck] an integral part of the celebration,” said Bill Coleman, member of the historical commission.

Shelia Dragoo, a county resident for more than 25 years, was present with her husband and granddaughter.

“It’s a great event,” Dragoo said of the birthday celebration. “I can tell a lot of hard work went into putting something this nice together.”

The event, on a bit smaller scale, was also conducted last year.

“I think it’s more than doubled this year, but last year we didn’t partner with the Main Street Association,” Peggy Capps said. “I think that helped a lot.”

The Main Street members and merchants conduct a spring “open house” each year and Peggy Capps said she worked to have their events coincide with one another.

Julie Glover, economic development program administrator for the city of Denton, said with the success she has seen from merchants this time, she would consider this to be an annual event partnership.

“Any time you can cross market and get more bang for your buck, I’m all for it,” she said.

Glover said that while it’s hard to count everyone, she estimates this weekend merchants will have seen about 6,000 to 8,000 people go through their doors downtown.

While the party might have ended, the “open house” has not.

Today, select downtown merchants will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. The Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum also will be open from 1 to 4 p.m.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.


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