SMITHFIELD — Founded Oct. 10, 1859, Smithfield reached its sesquicentennial in 2009. However, there was no official commemoration for it that year. In the spirit of better late than never, the Smithfield Historical Society hosted a commemorative program last week with the theme “150 years of progress … +3.” The event resembled a belated birthday party, complete with cake, balloons and an enthusiastic happy-birthday song.
“The purpose of tonight is to honor our wonderful city, Smithfield,” said Ralph Erickson, president of the Smithfield Historical Society.
The celebration was held in the auditorium of Summit Elementary. The Smithfield Youth Council and the Boy Scouts participated in the program. Barbara Winn Gutke, long-time Smithfield resident and relative of former Smithfield mayor Glen R. Winn, was asked to share her memories of Smithfield’s changes and progresses within the 88 years of her life.
“Smithfield was a wonderful place to grow up in,” Gutke said. “It’s very fun and safe. I love Smithfield.”
While Gutke spoke of Smithfield’s past, Darrell G. Simmons, Mayor of Smithfield, looked to the city’s future. “My wish for our city is that in the future we won’t look so much to the government to fix our problems, but to each other,” Simmons said. “My wish is for neighbors to help neighbors.”
Former Smithfield resident Jamie Hatch also shared her wish for Smithfield. “What I want in a city is a community I can feel safe in — a place where I can leave my car parked on the road and not worry it about,” Hatch said. “I want a place where I know my neighbors and that my children are safe.”
Simmons said he thought Smithfield was the safe, friendly city everyone was looking for because of its citizens.
“I don’t have a lot to say tonight other than ‘thank you,’” Simmons said. “If we had to pay our citizens, we wouldn’t be able to afford you. Our future is in good hands with people like you all.”