New name, but festival still rich in history, tradition, and caramel popcorn –
By Patricia Beech –
The village of Winchester is making preparations to kick off Adams County’s fall festival season this weekend. The three-day Homecoming Festival beginning Friday, Aug. 26 is sporting a new moniker, but its signature fare, Caramel Popcorn, remains the same.
Why the change in the decade’s old name?
Festival coordinator Patsy Roberts explains that until a few weeks ago it appeared the favored sticky treat was about to become a thing of the past.
“The American Legion started the Caramel Festival in the early 1950’s to raise money for the widows of soldiers who died in World War II, but as the veterans aged it became more difficult for them, and last year they decided to stop making the popcorn altogether,” she said. “We didn’t want people coming to the festival thinking there would be caramel, so we changed the name.”
According to Roberts, six weeks ago the town’s volunteer Fire Department stepped in and purchased the equipment from the Legion to keep the tradition alive.
As in years past, the festival will offer up parade and pageantry, fun activities for kids, musical and entertainment venues, crafters, sporting events, a surplus of vendors, and more than a passing nod to the town’s 200 year history.
In addition to the annual “Ghost Ride” through the founder’s cemetery, entertainment venues will feature music from the Civil War by Tom Stern, traditional American fiddle tunes by Randy Pollard, and the Boyer Sister performing songs from the 1940’s hit parade. The Methodist Church Quilt Show featuring a century of artistry by Winchester women will be accompanied this year by an Antique Toy display, and local farmers will provide a visual history of farm mechanization in the Antique Tractor Show.
“I think we’ll have a good turnout this year,” Roberts said. “We have a lot of events and vendors, and our Ghost Ride has grown so large that we now use a trolley in addition to our two horse-drawn carriages to transport people to and from the cemetery.”
The festival begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday with the 5K Run/Walk registration and performances by the W3CU Teen Worship Singers. Don Bowles of C103 will host the Queen contest at 6:30 p.m., with the Juggler Dave and Friends Magic Show following at 7 p.m., and at 8 p.m. the local group, The Fugitives will be on stage performing their repertoire of classic oldies and country music.
Saturday sees the Car and Motorcycle Cruise-In, the Antique Tractor Show, and the Caramel Culinary Contest registration begin at 11 a.m. Festival-goers will enjoy a day-long offering of musical venues featuring guest and local performers. Sporting events throughout the day include the third annual Wiffle Ball Tournament at the W3CU Ball Park at 11 a.m., the high-spirited Toilet Bowl Race begins at 4 p.m., and the Corn Hole and 3-on-3 Basketball Tournaments at 5 p.m. on the First State Bank parking lot.
The Caramel Culinary Contest and Auction will be held at 6:30 pm. Ghost Rides to the founder’s cemetery will begin at 8 p.m. while up-and-coming country singer David Tucker performs on the center stage.
Sunday’s Grand Parade will be led by Grand Marshals Kenneth and Sharon Corrill West. Married 55 years, the Wests are retired Winchester farmers who, according to Roberts, are being honored for their contributions to the community. “They have both always been very active in our community and in the church,” she said. “We are privileged to have them lead our parade.”
The parade will be followed by the Worlds Best Wrestling event at 4 p.m., the Good Time Cloggers will perform 4:15 p.m., the Raffle Drawing will be held at 5 p.m., and at 6 p.m. the 2016 Homecoming Festival will officially come to an end.