Minstrel show, food on tap this weekend in Greencastle

March 10, 2006|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - People around Greencastle aren't going to have to turn on their stoves or their televisions Saturday.

Great food and great entertainment will be the theme of the day at the Greencastle-Antrim school complex, and anyone purchasing tickets will be helping local service organizations.

All in one day, local folks can enjoy a pancake breakfast complete with sausage and puddings, a spaghetti dinner and an old-fashioned hobo minstrel show.

The minstrel show, which opened Thursday evening, also will be presented tonight.

The breakfast and the minstrel show will honor a well-known Greencastle couple who died in a fire in December, along with their 6-year-old grandson.


Pancake breakfast

From 6 a.m. to noon, people may go to Greencastle-Antrim Middle School on South Ridge Avenue for all the pancakes, sausage and puddings they can eat.

For at least the past 15 years, the Greencastle Lions Club has served the breakfast, according to Bill Needy, co-chairman of the event with Mike Stevens.

Needy has been involved for 11 years. Last year, the event raised about $4,000, Needy said. This year "we have some competition, and it's supposed to be good weather," he said, when people plan outside chores. "I tell people they can come eat at 6 and then go out and do chores and work it off," he said.

The breakfast is not the only attraction; the fellowship is an important part of the event, Needy said.

The 37-member club served 753 last year, he added. The Lionesses hold a bake sale in the lobby at the same time.

Preparations start Friday afternoon with cutting up the sausage and setting up tables. Cooking begins about 4:30 Saturday morning, when the sausage is baked in convection ovens and the puddings in a high-pressure steamer.

Proceeds help pay for eye exams or glasses for the needy. The club also is looking at a scholarship program for next year, and will honor its former president, Needy said. Joe Bowser, his wife, Joan, and their grandson, Elijah J. Virago of Catonsville, Md., died in a fire in December.

"We're going to donate $3,000 for a reading lounge in Joe's name," Needy said.

Tickets cost $4 in advance (from club members) or $5 at the door. Tickets cost $2 for children younger than 10.

Spaghetti dinner

After working off the pancake breakfast, people can go to Greencastle-Antrim High School from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday for an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner prepared by Greencastle Rotary Club members.

Andy Everetts, head of the dinner committee, said the group served about 240 dinners last year. The food will be prepared on site by school district employees, except for the desserts, which are donated. A majority of the club's 30 members help, he added. This is the fourth year for the Rotary to sponsor the dinner.

The $1,500 to $2,000 raised each year pays for youth projects such as Boy and Girl Scouts, computer camp at the high school, literacy programs and the Antrim Township park. Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts help to clear tables and get drinks during the event.

It's not a coincidence that the dinner is in the same building right before the final performance of the minstrel show.

"It helps both attendances," Everetts said. "I always take the early shift so I can go to the minstrel show. I haven't missed one in years."

Tickets cost $6 for adults; ages 6 to 12, $4.

Hobo minstrel show

The 71st Rescue Hose Co. Hobo Minstrel Show also will honor the memory of the Bowsers and their grandson.

"Joe had a solo every year in the minstrel show," premiere endman Russ Clever said. "Joan was crazy about the minstrel show. There will be black crepe (paper) on the front row seat where she and the grandson sat. Joe's chair (on stage) will be vacant and covered with black crepe."

Held in the auditorium of Greencastle-Antrim High School, the minstrel show has a patriotic theme this year.

Frank Mowen serves as the other premiere end man, and Greg Hoover as interlocutor and director. Six or eight endmen, all dressed as hobos, and a 50-voice chorus complete the ensemble.

Mowen and Clever will perform jokes and skits, one of which is about the Army, Clever said. The live band in the pit includes a piano, banjo, guitar and drums.

"This is the oldest-running minstrel show in the U.S.," Clever said. "It's a pretty big deal. It's still a minstrel show, not a variety show. You can turn on the TV and see the best singers in the world, the best tap dancers and accordion players, but you can't turn on the TV and see an old-time minstrel show. That's where we have the edge."

Clever and his wife, Dody, who sings in the chorus, perform around the area as Two Nuts and a Bolt and are amazed at how many people ask about the minstrel show, he said.

"It's good wholesome entertainment," he added. "Families attend. When I was a kid, we looked up to the minstrel end men. They were heroes in a small town."

Clever remembers taking a girlfriend to the minstrel show around 1952 when it was held in the old movie theater, now the banquet room of the Antrim House. He has performed in the show since 1963, when it was revived after a break of about six years, he said.

"We have more fun than the audience. If the people in the audience knew how much fun we were having, they'd all be up on the stage," he said.

Proceeds benefit the Rescue Hose Co.

All the shows are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for children 10 and younger. Videotapes of the Saturday night performance are available for $20.

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