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Ox Roast to begin

August 31, 2000

Ox Roast to begin



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Ox Roast plannersQUINCY, Pa. - In the early days of the Quincy Ox Roast a whole steer was put on a spit and turned over a fire until it was succulent and tender.

"We can't do that anymore. Things just got too big," said Bill Geesaman, a member of the Quincy Ox Roast Association Board of Directors and for years one of the volunteers who worked to make it a success.

This year the volunteer chefs will roast 30-pound chunks of beef totaling more than 2,400 pounds to feed the 5,000 to 6,000 people who usually attend the four-day event. "That's about 4 1/2 steers," Geesaman said.

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The festival starts today at 7:30 p.m. with five-cent bingo and entertainment by Elvis impersonator David King. It runs through Monday.

This year marks it's 66th anniversary. With few exceptions, it's been held on every Labor Day weekend since 1934. Among the exceptions were a polio scare in 1941, some World War II years and when a flood hit in the early 1950s, according to a 50th anniversary booklet on the ox roast published in 1984.

Entrance to the festival is free. The association makes its money on the food, Geesaman said.

In 1936 it took in about $3,400. This year Geesaman said it should gross about $50,000. Profits after expenses pay for the street lights in the village of Quincy.

The number of lights has grown over the years. Electricity for the lights runs around $800 a month, he said. In 1936 it was $440 for the whole year.

Geesaman said about 500 residents are considered to be association members. He includes everyone in the village whose house is bathed in light from a street light.

"If there's a light in front of their house then they're members, whether they know it or not," he said.

Each year a plea goes out to village residents to volunteer their time for two-hour shifts over the four days.

The rest of the proceeds from the ox roast goes to Scout troops the association sponsors and to other charities it chooses to help during the year.

More than just a festival, the ox roast has become an annual tradition through generations of village families. Geesaman has been involved in it for 40 years.

Molly Gossert remembers her grandmother working at the ox roast and now delights in the fact that her grandchildren are taking part. "They can hardly wait to get here, even the little 5-year-old," she said. "Some families have five generations involved in the ox roast," she said.

"The festival instills a lot of community pride," Geesaman said.

"This is still a town where everybody pretty much knows everybody else," Gossert said. "Some people who moved away come back every Labor Day for the festival. People see each other again for the first time in a year. It's very social."

While the ox roast offers games and entertainment to its patrons, "most people just come for the food," Gossert said.

The menu over the four days is impressive, from the usual fare of hot dogs and hamburgers - plus the country ham sandwiches and funnel cakes that are indigenous to the area - to the concoctions derived from the ton or so of freshly roasted beef.

They include hot roast beef sandwiches, the annual family style roast beef dinner on Monday, and Quincy's own and some say unique beef corn soup, which is always a festival hit.

"You mostly hear of chicken corn soup, but we've been serving our beef corn soup on Sundays for 66 years," Gossert said. "Area farmers donate the corn. The women used to sit around all day cutting the corn off the cob. I remember my grandmother doing it. They brought their own aprons and paring knives."

Saturday's entertainment will be provided by Kathie Martin and the Hot Rods, a rock 'n' roll group with shows at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and the 10th annual "CRUZZ" night from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

In the early days of the ox roast a popular feature was the display of the new cars that came out in that particular year. Today examples of those early cars will return as antiques in the Antique Car Show, which takes place Sunday afternoon along with the selling of corn soup.

On Monday the Community Yard Sale runs all day along side the Family Style Ox Roast Dinner which will be served in the air-conditioned dining hall from early afternoon until the meat runs out.

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