Popular historical Ghost Ride brings in record numbers –
Story by Patricia Beech –
Photos by Mark Carpenter and Patricia Beech –
Caramel popcorn and Ghost Rides were reason enough for some visitors to brave the muggy 90 degree days that settled over the Winchester Homecoming Festival last weekend.
“The weather did keep the crowds down some this year,” said festival organizer Patsy Roberts. “But, the vendors were still busy, and I think overall they were happy with the amount of business they did.”
According to Wayne Township’s Fire Chief Travis Baker, the weather didn’t slow the sale of caramel corn (the festival’s signature fare). “It’s been awesome, better than expected,” he said. “We’re almost sold out.”
The festival and the heat ended Sunday evening when a torrential thunderstorm swept through northern Adams County dropping hail and knocking out half the town’s electricity before it passed.
“We saw the storm coming so everybody jumped in and started taking stuff down,” said Roberts. “People were helping the vendors pack up, and we got everything put away, but we were all drenched.”
Despite the extremes in weather, crowds did turn out for the festival’s full slate of events and musical venues including performances by the Boyer Sisters and up-and-coming country music singer, David Tucker.
“I didn’t see Tucker perform, but everyone said he did a great job Saturday night,” said Roberts who, along with several other village residents spent the evening at the founder’s cemetery participating in the festival’s popular Ghost Ride. Two horse drawn carriages and a trolley transported nearly 500 visitors to and from the cemetery where residents dressed in period clothing and assumed the roles of the town’s founders.
Roberts’ grandson Zack participated in the history re-enactment. “I was a Revolutionary War soldier named John McCormick,” he explained. “When the Revolution ended the government was giving to land to soldiers, and when they ran out of land in Virginia they started giving away land in Ohio. They gave land to McCormick just north of Winchester, so he’s buried out there in the cemetery.”
Another popular attraction, the Antique Tractor Show, brought in a record number of tractors and farm equipment. According to organizer Matthew Trefz, over 50 tractors participated in this year’s show.
Winners included: Best restored – David Purdin, Best Un-restored -Matt Bihl, Best Implement – Dwayne Yates, Oldest Tractor – Daniel Henize, and People’s Choice – Ed Barry.
The festival finale, the Grand Parade, was led Sunday by a Boy Scout color guard and Grand Marshals Kenneth and Sharon Corrill West, who rode in a 1924 Model T Ford touring car.
“This community is just like a family,” said Mrs. West. “I was surprised when they told us we were to be the Grand Marshals, we feel very honored, it’s really a privilege.”
The Wests have lived and farmed in the Winchester area throughout their 55 years of marriage. “I’ve always lived in Winchester, the only time I was ever away from Adams County was when I did a hitch in the Navy in the mid 1950’s,” said Mr. West. “That was B.S. – Before Sharon,” he joked.
Mrs. West, who was originally from West Union, laughed, saying she “got drafted into the community when we got married.”
Mr. West worked at GE Aviation in Peebles before retiring while Mrs. West and their five children operated the family’s farm. “The kids all helped with farming and they’re all still close around us,” said Sharon. The couple have 15 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
The North Adams High School band marching behind the Grand Marshals played the school’s fight song, the Notre Dame Victory March. “It’s been several years since we’ve actually played the fight song in a parade,” said band director Matt William. “Of course we play it for the basketball games, but we thought we’d pull it out for the parade this year.”
Members of the Southern Ohio Wheel Chair Buddies followed behind with their caregivers. The group was founded seven years ago by veteran Rick Bell, after he lost the use of his legs in the Iraq War. “We want people to realize that there is life after the chair,” said Bell before the parade began.
The festival Queen, Haley Porterfield and her court (Paige Demlow – First Runner Up and Kristian Alcorn – Second Runner Up) waved and tossed candy to kids along the parade route.
The Georgetown High School marching band, colorful floats, classic cars, wailing fire engines, and politicians trailed by chugging antique tractors and riders on horseback brought up the rear.
“Overall, it was a very successful festival,” said Roberts. “Everything went smoothly, and everyone seemed to have a good time.”