Apple Days draws crowd to Hancock

September 16, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

HANCOCK - What started out 26 years ago as Hancock Days, featuring tobacco-spitting and turkey-calling contests, is known today as Hancock Canal Apple Days.

Next year, festival officials said, they'll drop the word "apple."

"Years ago, there were a lot of orchards around Hancock," Frank Stotler, chairman of the festival's parade committee, said during the festival Saturday.

The orchards are gone now, he said.

The Hancock Lions Club, which sponsors the annual festival, plans to rename the festival "C&0 Canal Days," Stotler said.

The festival is held each year during the third weekend of September in Hancock's Widmeyer Park.

Stotler and club member James E. Smith said Saturday turned out to be a good day with good weather and good attendance despite competition from the 140th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Antietam.


Saturday's parade was the largest in the event's history, with 90 units marching down Hancock's main street in the morning.

Smith said 31 of the local Lions Club's 45 members showed up to work at the festival Saturday.

Some members were busy staffing the Lions' popular barbecue chicken pit while, nearby, Lionesses were deep-frying their trademark funnel cakes.

"This is our biggest fund-raiser, said Lioness Faye Conley. "We've been doing this for 26 years."

The Hancock Lions shared the festival grounds with their brother Lions from Warfordsburg, Pa.

People were lined up in front of the Pennsylvania Lions' booth waiting for the 7-ounce steak sandwiches the club has sold at the Hancock festival for the past 20 years.

"This is a big fund-raiser for us," said Alton Hill, past president of the Warfordsburg Lions Club. "We usually take in about $1,000."

Not far away, the strains of "Wildwood Flower" drifted out from the shade of a sugar maple as the Almost Famous Bluegrass Band performed before a small crowd.

The members include Berkeley County, W.Va., residents Leonard Carpenter on fiddle, Kenton Catlett on guitar and Dee Stotler on bass, Vince Dean from Waynesboro, Pa., on mandolin and Roy O'Neal of Smithsburg on banjo.

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