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Benevolence flows at Keedysville Ruritan Festival

August 31, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

There was toe-tapping, water-sliding, palate-pleasing, bingo-calling, item-bidding and even peace-and-unity-promoting fun being had Saturday, Aug. 28, at the annual Keedysville Ruritan festival in Taylor Park.

With a full lineup of activities from morning til night, Art Williamson, Keedysville Ruritan treasurer, said the festival brought in more than $2,000. Williamson said money earned at Ruritan events goes toward, among other things, student scholarships and contributions to local Scouts, schools, little league teams, and fire and rescue squads.

"Our goal is not to accumulate assets," Williamson said. "We like to plow it right back into the community."

Jasmine Stuart, 10, of Sharpsburg, said she went to the festival along with her father, Guy Stuart Sr., and her brother, Guy Stuart Jr., 5, because she heard it was going to be fun. As she sat on a lawn bench anticipating a performance by the Rohrersville Band, Stuart reported that she had gone on the water slide, played at the park and eaten cotton candy.

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Lois Walling of Hagerstown spent the afternoon quietly playing bingo at the Taylor Park pavilion, but she said the real reason she regularly attends the festival is "for the music and the eats."

Wilma Hammond of Hagerstown, who took her grandsons, Corey Hammond, 2, and Cody Hammond, 7, of Martinsburg, W.Va., to the festival, said the event offers something for everyone.

"My mom comes down here every year for the food," she said. "The kids like to play the games. I love the roast beef, and I like to stay for the auction."

Williamson said the auction is a popular festival staple that typically draws a large evening crowd. He said the whole town of Keedysville pitches in each year to make the auction a success.

On the eve of the festival, Keedysville residents leave rummage items in front of their homes. The morning of the event, Ruritan members set out early, collecting the wares. The loads of items are taken to the park and arranged among gift certificates donated by local businesses, and fudges, pies and cakes baked by local residents. In the evening, J.G. Cochran Auctioneers and Associates Ltd. of Boonsboro gets the bidding rolling, generating money that will ultimately be funneled back to the community.

In addition to its usual festival activities, this year the Keedysville Ruritan welcomed an adjunct peace and unity gathering arranged by a local planning committee as an alternative to the Ku Klux Klan rally scheduled simultaneously in the neighboring town of Sharpsburg.

Williamson said Malcolm Stranathan, pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in Keedysville, approached the Ruritan Club hoping to do something "not in conflict with the Klan event and not in competition with the Ruritan festival, but in cooperation with the Ruritan as a peaceful alternative to the Klan event."

The Keedysville Ruritan welcomed the opportunity, combining its annual festival with the peace and unity gathering for an all-in-one event.

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