Townfest is a celebration of 'Main Street America'

September 26, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - In downtown Mercersburg Saturday, you could get your picture taken with a zebra head, on a Beverly Hillbillies-style truck or with a Barney Fife impersonator complete with Mayberry sheriff car.

At the 25th annual Mercersburg Townfest, items including All-Natural Sea Salt scrub, pottery, clothing from India and handmade brooms were offered for sale on East and West Seminary streets.

A few steps down the street from the zebra head, which was from the collection of late local naturalist Charles Brightbill, you could get investment advice or purchase Avon products or silk flower arrangements.


The 1929 six-cylinder Chevrolet truck was loaded with a wash basin, rocker, milk can and bedstead reminiscent of "The Beverly Hillbillies." Visitors could sit behind the wheel and wear a Jed Clampett hat, or climb onto the back and sit in a rocking chair to have their photo taken.

Jamie Cordell of Mercersburg dressed as Barney Fife of "The Andy Griffith Show" fame and stood beside a 1964 four-door Ford emblazoned on the side with "Mayberry Sheriff." Both vehicles are owned by Mercersburg Police Chief Larry Thomas.

Paul Smith of Mercersburg attended Townfest "to see and be seen," he said, after posing in the Beverly Hillbillies truck.

Food vendors ringed the square, offering street fair staples such as popcorn and funnel cakes, as well as portabello mushroom wraps and handmade crab cakes.

Liza Main, executive director of the Mercersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, said that Townfest is "a celebration of Main Street America. We have 83 vendors this year, 12 nonprofit organizations and several churches. We do it for our businesses and to bring people to Mercersburg."

Main estimated last year's crowd at 5,000, and said attendance was about the same Saturday.

Residents have been very supportive of the event, Main said.

"All the residents (of East and West Seminary streets) had to move their cars so we can have the fair," Main said. "Some give electricity from their homes to the vendors and don't charge for it. The town wants visitors to come and see us and enjoy. It's not about making money, it's about bringing people to Mercersburg."

The Kids Corner was expanded this year, with pony rides given by members of the Horses-R-Us Greencastle 4-H Club. A 9-foot 4-inch Uncle Sam on stilts made balloon animals and passed them out to children.

Tyana Quivers, 5, of Mercersburg, got a pink poodle. Sporting a red heart on her cheek and a butterfly on her shoulder, Tyana said she liked the face painting the best. She attended Townfest with her grandfather, John Quivers of Chambersburg, Pa.

Micah Bump of Washington, D.C., portrayed Uncle Sam. In his first appearance at Townfest, Bump said that Mercersburg residents "are above and beyond. There's a lot of energy and a lot of fun."

Sarah Grady, 1, and her brother, Christopher, 6, enjoyed the corn pools - plastic wading pools partially filled with dry kernels of field corn. Christopher's favorite activity at Townfest was the sand art.

"I made a fish," he said, before heading off to the moon bounce.

The children attended with their mother, Hope Grady. The family lives at Mercersburg Academy, where their father, David, is a math teacher.

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