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Fulton Fall Folk Festival activates county

October 19, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. ? Despite the rain, downtown McConnellsburg bustled Friday during the first day of the weekend-long, countywide celebration of Fulton County.

The Fulton Fall Folk Festival began 34 years ago as a way to promote tourism in the county.

Helen Overly was a major reason the festival began.

"I came here in 1972, and kind of was instrumental in starting this thing," she said.

Two years after moving to McConnellsburg, Overly was asked by the Chamber of Commerce to chair a committee to start a tourism group.

"If you have tourism, I said you have to have an event," Overly said. "My theme was 'What is Fulton County?' It was very much agricultural."

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Overly remembers how the first parade for the festival was about 15 minutes long. This year's parade, which is expected to last two hours, is today at 10:30 a.m.

"In 34 years, it takes on a life of its own, and it's grown," Overly said. "Originally, our goal was to have something happening every place in the county from north to south."

The entire county still celebrates the festival from McConnellsburg to Clear Ridge, Pa. Shops including Anthony's Gift Shop, Flower Basket and Gift Box, Fulton Antiques, and Great Cove Baskets and Gifts offer special sales and extended hours. There are hundreds of arts and crafts vendors selling their wares throughout the county.

"House tours are a wonderful part of the festival," Overly said of today's Fulton County Historical Society House tour, which showcases four local houses.

Kathy Fester, the executive director of the McConnellsburg Chamber of Commerce, remembers the festival from an early age.

"It's nostalgic to me because I was born and raised here," Fester said. "You get a chance to see everybody you haven't seen in a long time."

Fester said the purpose of the event is "to celebrate the heritage of Fulton County," and the theme is "Experience the Colors" because it is fall.

Ronnie Weicenburg, who has lived in McConnellsburg for 17 years, said she attends the festival each year.

"I like the crafts the most and the food," she said. "We go down to Needmore (Pa.) and Pa. 522, checking everything out. We see a lot of yard sales."

Weicenburg plans to attend the festival again this weekend because she tries to see as much of it as she can.

"I think it's real important," she said. "It brings families together and vendors who do crafts ... and local organizations can have fundraisers ... it's a good thing."

Weicenburg browsed the 27 vendors set up for the Fall Folk Festival Welcome Center Craft Show in the Lions Club Community Building.

Vendor Teresa Miller, owner of Teresa's Primitive Treasures in Newburg, Pa., sold her handmade items at the craft show. She described the items as "primitive stitches and wood."

"I like the idea of the three-day event," Miller said. "The crowds are a little bit thinner over the weekend, so you have more time to talk to customers."

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