Hancock Canal Apple Days

September 18, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

HANCOCK - Frank McCusker stepped up to St. Peter's Catholic Church's booth at Hancock Canal Apple Days on Saturday with a mission.

He bought one homemade apple dumpling with plans to return before the day was out to buy a whole pan full.

"I love them from the church," said McCusker, 44, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

So do a lot of other folks. That's why the ladies of the church made 3,982 apple dumplings over three days, said Margie Mann, the church's Canal Apple Days chairwoman.

This was the 24th year for the festival, which is sponsored by the Hancock Lions Club with assistance from the Hancock Lioness Club, said Larry Gerber Sr., festival chairman.


Gerber said the two-day festival was on track to draw more than 15,000 people during the weekend.

One thing luring people in is those apple dumplings.

Once again volunteer Barbara Fry took a week's vacation from work to help bake the apple dumplings, which sell for $1.50 each.

Fry takes a week off to prepare for Canal Apple Days each year and another week off in October to bake apple dumplings for the Apple Butter Festival in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Her third week of vacation is reserved for her family to go to Florida, she said.

"I'd feel guilty if I stopped baking," said Fry, who's been making apple dumplings for Canal Apple Days since 1980.

Mary Crawford, who was helping the Warfordsburg, Pa., Lions Club sell steak sandwiches, took her first break of the day mid-afternoon to sip some soda.

Crawford, 76, said she hoped to get a chance to walk around and visit the roughly 80 vendors at the festival.

Leroy and Sarah Poe were having a good time just relaxing in the shade of a pavilion and listening to the band, Possum Holler, after eating some French fries and steak sandwiches.

"We just enjoy sitting and watching," said Sarah Poe, 72, of Hagerstown.

Apple dumplings and steak sandwiches, like Saturday morning's parade, are a tradition at Hancock's annual Canal Apple Days.

"We've had one of the best, if not the best, parades we've ever had" with 72 units, Gerber said.

The Hancock Lions wanted to start a new tradition today - a male beauty contest, but that fell through because club members didn't have enough time to organize it.

"It'll be there next year," said Fran Shives, one of the organizers.

The baby contest will be held today at 1:30 p.m. with registration at the lower pavilion between noon and 1 p.m., said Faye Conley, chairwoman of the contest that is sponsored by the Hancock Lioness Club.

Cash prizes will be given to the first-, second- and third-place finishers in each category, Conley said.

Boys and girls will compete separately in four age divisions: 0 to 6 months; 7 months to 1 year; 13 months to 2 years; and 25 months to 3 years.

Boys and girls up to 3 years old will compete together in the costume contest, Conley said. A prize also will be given to the youngest entrant.

Jessica Pittman, 17, of Hancock, said she will probably enter her 5 1/2-month-old son, Nathan Francis, in the baby contest.

Pittman said she would dress Nathan in a regular outfit rather than some of the more elaborate costumes babies have shown off in the past such as a railroader and clown.

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