Not only does this year's Salem Days celebration start out with the most funding ever available, but this year's committee has brought back some past events that will revive the festival's glory years.

"We (members of the committee) thought we'd try something different with this year's events, not only add some things that are new, but also some old-fashioned celebration events," said Mayor Randy Brailsford, now in his third year of heading the celebration committee.The weeklong festivities (which actually got under way with Sunday night's fireside) include a watermelon-eating contest and sack race, longtime events that Brailsford said the committee felt appealed to a wide age group.

"That's something we really want to see - everybody coming down and having a good time. We just didn't feel like it was fair to have events that get over quickly or appeal to just one age group."

However, the committee has planned specialty activities, including a senior citizens program, a youth dance and an "adorable baby" contest, to make sure there is a variety of activities, he said.

"We feel like everyone should have something to go to during the week."

Also, most of the activities are free to the public, he said.

"We get our funding in other ways, so anyone can come down and enjoy themselves and not have to spend a lot of money."

Returning activities include the traditional Saturday night pageant (including musical and comedy programs) and a fireworks display, as well as the grand parade.

"We're very proud of the events we have this year and especially our city and the people there. We want them to be proud of the city as well."

Also, this year's Little Buckaroo Rodeo has been scheduled to show off the city's new arena, Brailsford said.

"We (town officials) have been working with the 4-H and the riding club to get the arena completed and we want to be able to show it off. It's really wonderful."

Another thing Brailsford terms as wonderful is the community support, including the $2,000 in funding raised for the festivities during garage sales.

"The support from our community has been outstanding. In fact, that's why I keep coming back as committee chairman - I want to stay involved in the community this way."