Meadville Tribune

July 13, 2013

Volunteer efforts pay off in annual community festival

By Mary Spicer
Meadville Tribune

TOWNVILLE — You’ve now been officially warned.

“When you come, you’d better be hungry — when you leave, you’d better be full” are the words from Garold Molli, who has shared the reins of Townville’s Old Home Days with co-chair Doreen Rumzie for more years than either of them cares to remember.

Prepare for a notion of “full” to be redefined during the community extravaganza that kicked off Friday night and continues through this evening on the campus of Maplewood Elementary School on Route 408. Admission is free. Ditto for parking, which saves lots of money to be spent on other great stuff.

Bearing in mind that serious eating is only part of the attraction of the event, Molli insists that the food should not be missed.

“Our specialty is the ox roast,” Molli said during a recent interview. But there’s also the pork. Don’t forget countless cases of french fries waiting to be, well, freshly fried; plus wings served with great gusto by the folks from Randolph Volunteer Fire Department, who are on hand with their popular booth. Then there are the dogs — traditional “hot” with all the trimmings and ever-popular “chili.” Garbage fries. Sloppy joes. And about 200 homemade pies of every imaginable variety and variation.

This is one community event that involves pretty much the entire community, bringing together about 200 volunteers working under the direction of about 20 chairpeople who report to co-chairs Molli and Rumzie.

Setup started more than a week ago. While there are all sorts of outdoor activities — and food! — the gymnasium filled with more than 50 indoor displays featuring unique crafts, displays and assorted goodies is the event’s true center. The gym is also home to a display of the entire history of Old Home Days.

Historical perspective

For those who attend an annual community event that dates back to just about forever and wonder what it must have been like “back in the day,” Jean Lupher has assembled an answer.

Inside the school gym, one will find the display that Lupher first put together back in 2009 — and has kept up to date ever since.

“It has all the queens, all the dedications, all the memorials and features on the parades and the booths,” Lupher told the Tribune during a recent interview.

“I wasn’t chosen at random, you know,” she replied when asked what inspired her to take on such a daunting task. “I taught history and English at the high school and middle school for 35 years,” Lupher, who describes her age as “pushing 80,” explained. “I was an obvious choice.”

She’s also had serious help over the years, beginning in 2009 when Maplewood Junior-Senior High School senior Emily Hunter made helping with the display her senior project. Each year since, Lupher has had a student working on a senior project help her put the massive poster board-based project into place in a place of honor in the gym.

The financial return on that first effort, which she described as “at least $10,000” — almost $83,000 in today’s dollars — inspired firemen, auxiliary members and townspeople to get together and keep the money rolling in.

Today, proceeds are split between Townville Volunteer Fire Department, Townville Volunteer Ambulance Service and the ladies auxiliary. However, lots of other groups with outdoor booths including local 4-H clubs and the Maplewood High School Band, to name just two, are raising funds to support their own cause.

“It’s not just a firemen’s festival,” Molli explained. “It’s more of a community festival.”

Lupher, whose display includes a huge number of photos that have been accumulated over the years, primarily in the scrapbooks maintained by local residents Evelyn Kinnear and Frances Werling, agrees. While shots of the floats and the parade are wonderful, she explained, what she’s really impressed by is the sheer number of people it takes working in booths and on all the components of the event to pull it all together.

“It’s a fun time,” she said, “but it takes the whole community. It’s a good time to get together with all your neighbors. You see the same people — it’s amazing how many of the same people have done the same things for so many years.”

A participant in Old Home Days since the beginning, Lupher’s currently active in the local Lions Club, Townville United Methodist and The Pierian Club, a ladies’ literary club named for the Macedonian spring favored by the ancient Muses and made famous by Alexander Pope.

“We help with the (ticket) auction,” Lupher said. “The church has a bake sale. The lit club has a lemonade booth. I work in all three booths. Everyone works.”

How to get there

Coming out Route 77 from Meadville, either go all the way to Route 408 and turn right — or make a right turn onto Lyona Road approximately two miles beyond Blooming Valley and travel along the hypotenuse of a cross-country triangle until Lyona ends at its junction with 408 — then continue toward Townville. “There’s a big semi trailer parked in front of the elementary school,” co-chair Garold Molli explained. “They can’t hardly miss it.”

Some parking is available in front of the building; lots of parking is available in a lot behind the building that must be entered from the Townville side of the school. Admission to the day-long event is free. Ditto for parking.

Schedule of events

5K race — 8 a.m. at rear of Maplewood Elementary (7:30 to 7:50 registration)

“Harvest Your Dreams” parade — 10:30 (9:45 preparations)

Opening of food booths games, displays — noon

Car show — noon; trophies awarded until show ends at 4 p.m.

Firefighters’ water battles — 1 (12:30 registration)

Parade trophies winners announced — 1

Cornhole tournament — 1; finals at 6

Horseshoe tournament — 4

Book dedications — 7

Silent auction winners announced — 9

Raffle prize giveaways announced — 10:30

Musical entertainment

Jr. Miller and the Bluegrass Cut-ups — noon to 1:30 p.m.

Allison Mattis — 2 to 3:30

The Tom, Lin and Tammy Show — 4 to 5:30

Country Kickers dance — 6 to 7

Sierra — 7:30 to 10:30 with a break at 8:30 to introduce the Townville royalty

All events and schedules are subject to change by the Old Home Days Committee as needed.

Cleanup begins on Sunday at 8 a.m. Lunch will follow as the work is completed; winners of many of the events will be announced at the beginning of the week. The Old Home Days volunteers picnic is Aug. 4 at Wheelock’s Pavilion.