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Hoedown a hit with hundreds

October 05, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

While Dorothy Wilson is a great-grandmother, she never had made a scarecrow until Saturday. She said she was tickled to get the chance.

"I think this is great. I'm going to take this back to Michigan," Wilson said.

As she took a handful of hay and stuffed it into a pair of old pants to start filling out the scarecrow's body, she said, "I'm going back home and teach everyone how to do this."

Wilson was visiting her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandson in Williamsport. They all were at the annual Harvest Hoedown on Saturday at Byron Memorial Park in Williamsport.

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The annual fall festival, a fund-raiser for the Williamsport Food Bank, drew hundreds of people for a few hours of fun, including stuffing scarecrows and decorating pumpkins.

Members of area churches donated old baseball hats, shirts, torn jeans, neckties and panty hose to make the scarecrows, said Mark Sandell, the minister of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Williamsport. Sandell, one of the lead organizers of the event, said most years 400 to 450 scarecrows are stuffed and taken home.

Most of the scarecrows are used as decoration on front porches, he said.

"No, you wouldn't put these out in your cornfield," he said.

Underneath a covered picnic area with hay bales strewn across the ground, Lisa Mummert, 44, was helping folks put together their scarecrows.

"You don't want to make the head too big or too small, because panty hose stretches a lot," Mummert said.

The leggings are used to hold straw, and form the head and arms when tied off at the ends with string. Then the stuffed leggings go into a shirt, more hay goes into the shirt to add volume and pants are stuffed. The two parts are matched together with a little more hay and makeshift suspenders.

As Troy Shields' daughter glued the felt mouth onto a scarecrow's face, he said the activity was enjoyable.

"I guess it's more festive than anything else. ... I think it's just something to do," Shields said.

Pumpkin decorating also was popular before rain scared off many of the visitors Saturday.

Lois Dreisbach, 53, of Fairplay was helping run the pumpkin decoration booth as the official "pumpkin washer."

"You have to lift them out of the boxes, wash them off, and wipe them off so the kids can paint them," Dreisbach said.

She guessed she had washed more than 200 pumpkins Saturday. She said no particular type of pumpkin was most popular.

"It just depends on the person, she said. "The kids usually want the big ones. The parents just want them to pick one and move on."

While the crowds appeared to enjoy themselves Saturday, the rain resulted in lower participation than in previous years, said Greg Martin, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Williamsport and another organizer of the event.

In previous years, Harvest Hoedown has brought in $10,000 to $12,000 in cash and another 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of food for the food bank, Martin said.

This year, he said, "We may need to do some other fund-raising. ... We didn't count on this (rain)."

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