The Home Front Festival at the Craneway Pavilion will blanket the Richmond shoreline this Saturday with its sixth annual celebration of the World War II home front effort, complete with 1940s-era shuttle buses and historical re-enactors in period costume.
The biggest addition to this year’s festival is the new Visitor Education Center at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park, which celebrated its grand opening in late May. The center offers temporary exhibits to tell the story of the home front both in Richmond and across the country, with plans to install permanent interactive multimedia exhibits in summer 2013.
The weekend’s festivities kick off with a Rosie the Riveter 1940s USO dance at 7 p.m. on Friday, featuring live swing bands, free coffee and donuts, a no-host bar, and a tribute to Lena Horne by vocalist Robin Gregory. Tickets are $20 general admission and $15 for seniors, but those who show up with a military ID or in uniform get in for free.
“We’re putting more emphasis on our veterans this year,” said Judith Morgan, president and CEO of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. In addition to a booth on Saturday that offers support services for veterans, the local nonprofit group Their Angels – founded by a Richmond-based military wife and mother, Marva Lyons – will provide opportunities for visitors to write letters to troops overseas.
The celebration Saturday starts at 9 a.m. with a 5k & 10k race sponsored by the Hilltop YMCA. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can check out hundreds of vendors, performances, and activities including a Kiwanis Classic Car show and a tour of the historic USS Potomac, which has been absent from the festival for the last few years.
The Chamber made an effort to increase publicity for the festival this year, Morgan said, which included sending out a flier to every student in the West Contra Costa School District.
“It’s really important for local students to learn” about the impact of World War II on Richmond, Morgan said. “What happened on the home front isn’t just Richmond’s history,” she said. “It’s the nation’s history.”