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Apex celebrates history, growth with inaugural Founders' Day 

Apex is the twenty-second largest municipality in North Carolina, but it hasn’t always been that way. According to Apex Council Member Scott Lassiter, its transition from tiny railroad town to major metropolitan area is something to celebrate.

Celebration participants check out the antique cars on display at the inaugural Apex Founders Day event in March. Photo credit: Aliana Ramos, The Cary News.
At the turn of the 20th century, Apex had a population of roughly 350. Now, Apex has nearly 39,000 residents – almost double what it had in 2000. To celebrate, hundreds of citizens came out for Founders’ Day, Apex’s first historical celebration since the centennial celebration in 1973.

“This is a really neat event for a town like Apex that has seen so much growth and influx of folks from all over the country,” Lassiter said. “I look forward to it growing and more folks being exposed to the town that they now call home.”

Lassiter, an Apex-native elected to council in 2011, teaches history at East Wake Middle School and serves as a liaison to the parks and recreation department for the council. He worked with the parks department, Apex Historical Society, cultural resources department and downtown merchants for 9 months to plan the inaugural event.

“There’s such a tradition of using that downtown area as a gathering place and it really is the heart of apex. We work very hard to protect that district and keep it alive and functioning,” Lassiter said.

The town plans to make Founders’ Day an annual event, but this year’s festival was extra special because the famous Apex Union Depot turned 100.

The festival spanned downtown Apex to include a 5k race, Civil War reenactments, an antique car show with old police equipment and fire trucks, and three presentations from professors about the history of Apex and Southwest Wake County. Lassiter said downtown merchants like the Rusty Bucket, a home furnishing store that pays homage to history with refinished antiques, were also involved in the festivities.

“Even though we’ve grown, we’ve managed to keep that small town character,” Lassiter said. “It’s the best of both worlds. We have the business and developments that serve our citizens well. We’re big enough for that but small enough that we’re able to stay customer focused on our constituents.”