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Optimism rousing in Rouzerville

August 21, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

ROUZERVILLE, PA.

Faced with both a Lowe's home improvement center and a Wal-Mart coming into their small community, Rouzerville business owners are celebrating.

That spirit took tangible form with the first Rouzerfest held Saturday at Red Run Park.

"We're very excited," said Ann Backer, co-owner of Blondie's in Rouzerville. "We're letting people know we're not just 'east of Waynesboro.' We're Rouzerville. Lowe's and Wal-Mart will help put us on the map. That's why we started the Rouzerville Business Association. (The new stores) will help all of us. We won't have to go to Hagerstown for supplies any more."

Oddly enough for a restaurant owner, Backer also is happy about the Applebee's that is coming in.

"I'll take their overflow any time," she said.

The stores will be in Rouzerville Commons on Pa. 16.

While Backer said she didn't expect much business at the park until noon, "people are buying and eating now (at 11 a.m.)."

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The weekend on which to hold Rouzerfest was carefully chosen.

"This August weekend is when the Country WAYZ Summer Fun Fest used to be held at Red Run Park," Backer said. "People are used to coming here that weekend."

The WAYZ event, which brought in top performers such as Trisha Yearwood, has not been held for about five years, she said.

Many of the 54 food and craft vendors are Rouzerville Business Association members.

Dianne Stadler, chairperson of Rouzerfest and treasurer for the 15-member association, said the event was a great success.

"There are plenty of activities and entertainment for the whole family," she said, standing with her young sons watching the hot air balloon.

Dan Smith, president of the Rouzerville Business Association (Motto: Where's Rouzerville?), said that proceeds from the event will go to the community, some earmarked for improvements to Red Run Park.

Smith piloted an 87,000-cubic-foot balloon to give people rides for $5 apiece. At eight stories tall, the blue balloon was by far the tallest "structure" in Rouzerville. The balloon belongs to Velocity Flyers of Hedgesville, W.Va.,

Shooting blasts of flame from the burner, Smith gently raised and lowered the balloon. Tethered to two trucks and a van, the balloon gently rose 30 to 35 feet, with two people in the wicker basket with Smith at a time. Three large propane tanks occupy space in the 4-foot-by-4-foot basket.

Jaclyn Baumgardner, 7, went aloft with Smith, reporting afterward that she "could see everything on the ground." It was her first balloon ride.

"I never even saw one before," she added.

Parents Dan and Teressa Baumgardner of Greencastle, Pa., accompanied Jaclyn to Rouzerfest.

Sitting in a wooded area, Corey Ramsey, 17, listened to music performed by the Waynesboro Children's Theater Troupe.

"One of my best friends is singing in it," he said as the group performed a selection from "The Lion King."

Organizers hope Rouzerfest will become an annual event.

Anyone interested in joining the Rouzerville Business Association may call Backer at 717-762-3107.

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