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Festival gives visitors warm, fuzzy feeling

August 10, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

LEITERSBURG - Not everything was peach-colored at Leitersburg Ruritan Park on Saturday.

Noami and Allie, albino Great Danes, were stark white. Their size and color drew attention as PeeWee Powell strolled with them along a row of arts and crafts tables.

This is the fourth year PeeWee and Jerri Powell of Hopewell, Va., have set up a booth at the Leitersburg Peach Festival. Their business, "Wood -n- Things," sells soap dispensers, potpourri and electric tart warmers, which melt small, scented wax cakes.

This year, Jerri Powell sold and demonstrated marshmallow guns. A "gun" is actually a few segments of thin pipe configured to work like a blow gun. Mini-marshmallows are the darts.

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Noami and Allie - short for "Alligator," because she's "all mouth" - are deaf, Jerri Powell said. They respond to hand and light signals.

Having them and Bruno, a shy Great Dane who stayed home in Virginia, is like having three children, she said.

As Allie laid on her side and lapped at ice cubes in the grass, Peach Festival visitors milled around the park, stopping to browse through booths selling glass pumpkins, candles, baskets, wreaths, birdhouses, perennials, foam puppets and knives that never need sharpening.

Sweet and salty kettle corn was the dominant smell. But if you concentrated on other senses - say, twangy bluegrass picking or creamy peach ice cream - you might not have noticed.

The two rows of antique tractors included a 1938 Case CC owned by Lou and Ben Messler of Hagerstown and a 1946 Farmall owned by Earl "Pop-Pop" Moyer of Leitersburg. A lime green sign next to Moyer's Farmall showed two pencil sketches of the farm machine supplied and signed by Dakota, 5, and Austin, 7.

Kids played with kids - children and goats - at the petting zoo, while nine cows grazed on the other side of a wire fence.

People re-enacting what the Civil War was like for the 6th Md. Volunteer Infantry Regiment set up a camp.

Ron Benedict, who portrays a major, sat by a table that showed what a soldier in the regiment might have carried, including food and bullets - as well as dice and playing cards, to satisfy the vices.

Brian Hormell of Hagers-town portrayed M.I. Bones, an actual mortician. He said soldiers who died on the battlefield often were buried near the surface, with hands and feet sticking out, so morticians could later retrieve bodies if families claimed them.

Occasionally, a soldier might be buried in a deep grave while still alive. To prevent that, Hormell said, a pole would be placed in the ground on top of the casket. If a soldier were still alive, he could reach up to the pole and pull a string that rang a bell.

Lisa Irving of Hagerstown took two prizes in the peach pie competition - first for open-face and second for double-crust. Irving said the open-face recipe was in a barbecue book at a grocery store. The double-crust recipe, with handmade crust, has been in her family.

Irving said she likes to prepare Italian and French food.

"I'm known for my strawberry crepes," she said.

Asked if there's a secret to her pies, she said, "Ivy Hill Farms peaches."

She promised that the plug was not because she used to baby-sit farm owner John Martin's grandson.

Larry Guidice, a neighbor working at the festival booth, said the peach crop was good this year, producing large, healthy fruit.

"It was a little late because we had all that rain," he said, but much better than last year, when drought plagued the growing season.

Guidice said they had sold about 100 bushels by early afternoon and Martin was on his way back to the farm, which is near Smithsburg, to get 20 or 30 bushels more.

On Sunday, there were to do it all over again.

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