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Aged oak to grace festival badges

June 11, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

enlargement

350-year old oak tree

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - One of Greencastle's oldest residents, a 350-year old chinquapin oak tree, will be the image on the badge for the 1998 Old Home Week festival.

Frank Ervin, a local pharmacist and one of eight directors for the nearly century-old festival, said Wednesday that 3,500 badges have been made for the event, which runs from Aug. 1 to 8.

The badges entitle the bearers to a 30-page program book and free admission to the festival's 100-plus events. They will go on sale around town by the end of this month.

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The cost for the badge and program is $5. The badge sale is the event's biggest fund-raiser, Ervin said.

This year the committee has budgeted $3,500 to put on the festival, which has been held in Greencastle every three years since 1902.

The week-long series of events draws thousands of residents and former residents to Greencastle for family and school reunions and other revelry.

Highlights include band concerts, a parade, dances, competitions, church services and reunions. The biggest night will be Aug. 1 on the town square, when more than 1,000 people will turn out at midnight for the "unofficial" opening.

Ervin said the committee decided to use the oak tree as its symbol this year, "because it's been here longer than anyone. We thought it would make a good tribute."

If the estimated age of the tree is correct, then the acorn that started it worked its way into the ground in 1648, a time when Greencastle was inhabited by Indians.

"No whites were believed to have been in the area at that time," said Charles White, director of the Tayamentasachta Environmental Center on whose grounds the great oak stands.

The tree is so huge at its trunk that it takes seven sixth-graders to wrap their outstretched arms around it. It is believed to be one of the largest chinquapin oak trees in Pennsylvania.

Martin's Mill covered bridge, the site of the Enoch Brown school massacre by Indians, the high school and the town clock have been on the festival badge over the years, according to Ervin. The clock has been used most frequently, he said.

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