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Family festival gives Leitersburg a sense of community

July 24, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER
  • Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Co. Firefighter Bobby Myerly helps Christopher Marquez man a fire hose Saturday at a community family festival at Leitersburg Ruritan Community Park.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

LEITERSBURG -- After just two years, a free outdoor festival in Leitersburg might not be drawing record crowds, but the small family event appears to have taken root.

"I think it's great," said Donna Leatherman of Leitersburg.

Members of St. Paul's Evangelical Free Lutheran Church, Leitersburg Ruritan Club and Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Co. hosted a community family festival Saturday at Leitersburg Ruritan Community Park.

Civic leaders created the festival last year with a simple goal, said Lynn Bibbee, secretary of the Ruritan.

"We wanted to host a free event for families in a good, safe environment," she said.

Organizers also wanted to engender a sense of community in Leitersburg that began to fade when the Leitersburg School closed, said Terry Culler, pastor at St. Paul's.

Leitersburg, which is an unincorporated area of Washington County, could use a more defined sense of community, Culler said.

He hopes this event, like the annual Leitersburg Peach Festival, will help bring people together, he said.

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In just a year, the event has grown, Bibbee said.

Kirk Mongan, chief of the Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Co., said this was the first year his station was officially and actively involved.

Bibbee said she hopes the festival will continue to grow, but that as it does, it must remain free.

People were surprised that free really meant free on Saturday.

Everything from the hot dogs, sodas and water to rides on a tractor-pulled train and games were free.

"I've had people try to pay me for the food," Bibbee said.

"I was shocked that the food was free," Leatherman said.

Multiple businesses and organizations made the event possible at no cost to the public or the organizations hosting it, Bibbee said.

While a mix of ages came Saturday, Culler said most of the event was geared toward children.

Games, a magic show, tours of fire safety vehicles and more were available to keep children entertained.

The balloon shapes made by Waynesboro, Pa.-based magician Frank Culler was the favorite of Lauren Leatherman, 8, of Middletown, Md.

Heat makes balloon twisting a challenge because it expands the air inside the balloon and causes it to burst, Frank Culler said.

That did not stop friends Abigail Bowders, 11, of Funkstown, Madison Crim, 10, of Hagerstown, and Abigail Gagnon, 12, of Funkstown, from making multiple requests of Frank Culler for balloon shapes.

"Surprisingly, the twisted candy canes are really popular today," Frank Culler said.

Perhaps that was because, as Lauren said, "cooler weather would have been nice."

Beside a cooler day, Lauren suggested adding crafts to the event next year. Abigail Gagnon suggested water activities could provide relief from the July heat.

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