PUNXSUTAWNEY â€” Just in time for the Fourth of July, the 45th-annual Groundhog Festival kicks off Sunday.
With two entertainment groups coming back for round two, and all-new acts throughout the rest of the week, Groundhog Festival Committee Chairman Roger Steele is anxious for kick-off.
"I do get nervous days before the festival starts," he said. "But I know everyone that helps get this thing up and running does a great job of it. I'm excited to see how things turn out this year."
Returning this year is the True Heart Quartet, which officials kicks off the festival at 4 p.m. Sunday. Also returning is Midnight Special, which performed last year but had to cut its show short due to weather.
New this year is the "Kahuna Beach Party," performing next Saturday night.
"For me personally, I am excited for the Saturday night entertainment," Steele said. "I also enjoy seeing the kidsâ€™ circus at the beginning of the week to watch the smiles and eyes of the kids and their families light up with happiness.â€ť
The Groundhog Festival Committee prides itself on building the event into something big for the entire community. Unlike bigger fairs and festivals, there are always eight to 10 committee members available at the festival each day for questions or assistance.
"We are always identified by the community if anyone should need help, and that's what is so important," Steele said.
The committee spends about eight to 10 hours a day to make the festival enjoyable. The committee, along with hundreds of volunteers, plans year-round to make each festival bigger and better than the year before.
This year's festival will bring 60 to 80 vendor booths and about 18 different food vendors. What was once the committee's budget for the entire festival is now around a half-day's budget.
"The committee and I are so thankful for everyone in the community for all their help, donations and sponsorships," Steele said.
Even while celebrating its 45th year, the committee believes the event is still in a growth period.
"I am planning for the stage to have a whole new look for next year's festival," Steele said. "It will be a surprise for everyone to look forward to."
To see this year's complete Groundhog Festival schedule, visit www.groundhogfestival.com.