by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

BYRON NATIVE ERIK JONES was the featured guest in Byron Saturday, May 21, as the young racing star celebrated his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut that will take place in Brooklyn, MI on June 11. Jones made time for everyone who wanted to talk to him, even while he attempted to grab lunch, as shown here. Jones has taken the NASCAR world by storm over the last couple years, but it is worth noting that the Byron legend still makes the effort to show how much his local fans mean to him. (Independent Photos/Graham Sturgeon)

The Byron community celebrated Erik Jones Saturday, May 21 with a picnic at Byron High School that drew nearly 500 area residents. The entire community came together to make the event possible, with the Byron DDA, City Council, and High School helping to organize the event that was sponsored by Resers Fine Foods and Joe Gibbs Racing. Additionally, the Shiawassee County Sheriff Department provided security for the event.

The reason for the event was Jones’ upcoming NASCAR XFINITY Series debut June 11 at the Michigan International Speedway. The 19-year-old (he turns 20 on May 30) 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and rookie of the year is turning heads across the country, but has not forgotten his roots. He was obviously overwhelmed by the support of his hometown community, which went to great lengths to make him feel welcome. Jones mingled with guests all afternoon and thanked the many volunteers for making the picnic such a success, saying he is so proud to be from Byron.

The festivities included food and drinks, naturally, as well as music by the local band JenniLynn and the Ruckus, and even the game corn hole, but the community went the extra mile by unveiling a permanent Erik Jones sign to commemorate the young star’s success. The sign is rooted in front of the village’s water tower that is located next to Byron High School on Main St., and many local businesses contributed to funding the new Byron landmark. Matador’s Pizza, Industrial Propane, Insulation Industries, Russell Bros Concrete Construction, Flamingo Kid Signs, Willow Brook Golf Course, Hanson’s Quik Stop, Harris & Sons Portable Restrooms, The Drury Group, Byron’s Downtown Deli, The Village Framer, and Blackmore-Rowe Insurance all came together to make this sign possible.

Byron Village President Kit Brunell was enthusiastic about the turnout for the event and how smoothly the entire day went. “It was a very positive, fun-filled day, and it is always nice to see a community come together like this,” Brunell said. “Many people complemented us on the event. I would like to thank Resers Fine Foods, Joe Gibbs Racing, the Village of Byron DDA, and the Byron Area Schools for all of their help in making this a memorable event for the village. And of course, we would all like to thank Erik for giving back to the community and spending the day with his biggest fans.”

Byron Welcomes Local Star was last modified: May 31st, 2016 by Karen Elford