Looking Back: Franklin County’s history Sept 1st

Franklin County’s history

Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Sept 1st.

25 Years Ago

September 1, 1996 –  Sunday

“Corn Festival Draws 30,000”

Nathan Gracey chews on an ear of corn as his mother, Pam Gracey of Mechanicsburg, tries to hold on to both the ear of com and her child at the Shippensburg Com Festival Saturday.

Shippensburg – After collecting baskets for 40 years, Joyce and Herb Hays of Shippensburg began making their own from tiny woven baskets for $6.95 each, to intricate cane purses with ceramic ornaments and hand-made hinges for $395.  

And what better place to sell them than the Shippensburg Corn Festival?

“It’s a good crowd,” Joyce said Saturday as she watched the throng of buyers wander through King Street, eying her artwork. “Happy people. cI haven’t heard anyone say they weren’t having a good time.”

The 16th Annual Shippensburg Corn Festival kicked off at 8 a.m. Saturday, welcoming an estimated 30,000 people, 300 craft booths and 36 food vendors.

From wood crafts to flower arrangements, baskets to wall hangings, pottery to Christmas decorations, the festival was nirvana for those with a taste for country crafts or a penchant for shopping.

“It draws a lot of people and they all bring big wads of money,” said Helen Rupert, a Glen Burnie, Md., woman with a talent for painting.

One reason the corn festival draws such a crowd is the timing, Rupert said.  Most craft shows are in the fall, not the summer.

Rupert’s booth with hand-painted mailboxes for $20 to $25, watering cans from $12 to $18, and $50 antique heaters was almost hidden by the drove of people swarming to order items.  She had to run to the store only three hours after opening to buy more supplies.

“I guess a lot of people are buying for Christmas,” Rupert said.

Christmas gifts are what Angela Baum and her mother, Donna, had in mind when they drove to the festival from Carlisle Saturday.  

By noon, they had already lugged one load of merchandise to their car.  After filling shopping bags with dried corn, breads, baskets, T-shirts, hand-stitched animals, crocheted dolls and canisters, they were dropping off another.

“It’s a lot bigger than it was last year,” Angela said. “And more crowded, too,” Donna added.

The women come to the festival every year, they said, but spent a lot more money this year than last.  And not on gifts like they originally planned they sheepishly acknowledged most of the items were for them.

For folks who aren’t impressed with crafts, the festival offered other displays, including an antique car show, featuring about 75 cars from a 1923 Ford to a 1974 Vega  – the only car that was for sale.  

“I’m only selling it to buy another,” said owner Bob Shoemaker, Shippensburg.

Shoemaker is the proud owner of 10 antique cars, including a 1960 Studebaker, a 1963 Chevrolet Impala, a 1965 Corvair convertible and a 1968 Camaro.

He’s been showing off his cars at the festival for years, but hopes the Vega will be replaced by another for next year’s festival.

“I want a ’58 Chevy – that’s the year I started to drive,” Shoemaker said.

Other activities included a quilt show, featuring the detailed work of women from the 19th century to the present, a petting zoo for children, and a slew of musicians at three locations throughout the day.

The only drawback to the Corn Festival is the lack of business for some merchants along King Street, shadowed by the booths and food vendors.

“Some stores say they aren’t doing good, but you have to have what the people want,” said Charles Kinsler, whose table of $2 sunglasses and other items outside his storefront at C &  T Wholesale were selling fast.”

The festival began in 1980 to boost the local economy and preserve downtown. Past events have paid for street lights, restoration of the gazebo, banners and Christmas decorations.

50 Years Ago

September 1, 1971 – Wednesday

“Local Jaycees Bring Bartok Circus Here”

Chambersburg– The 1971 edition of the Famous Circus Bartok is coming ; here September 7, Gary Hawbaker, president of the Chambersburg Area Jaycees, announced today.

“Our organization Is bringing America’s largest circus-in-the- round here to enable the children of our community to enjoy a traditionally wholesome form of unique American entertainment,” Hawbaker said.

The Famous Circus Bartok is rapidly becoming known as “The Freedom Circus” because it has provided a refuge for many famous circus performers from behind the Iron Curtain.  These men and women risked their lives to seek freedom in America, escaping from the political suffocation of Communist east Europe.  The Famous Circus Bartok is proud to present stars from the Moscow State Circus, the Hungarian National Circus and the Warsaw State Circus, and to help them make a new life in freedom.

Advance reduced-rate tickets may be purchased from any member of the Chambersburg Jaycees.  Receipts will be used for civic projects of all local Jaycees.

100 Years Ago

September 1, 1921 – Thursday

“Good Will pumper test next Thursday”

Chambersburg – The $12,500 motor fire apparatus, combination gasoline pumper, chemical and hose carrier, which was placed In the Good Will fire house yesterday, will have it official test next Thursday, when the La France factory expert will return to town.  He left this afternoon after being here to supervise the unloading and housing and he has operated it about town.  Yesterday it was given a trial at Wolf Lake and pumped like a charm.

At one time 39 firemen rode on the machine.  The service truck, which the company is buying In partner with the borough, la expected here in three weeks.  

Russel Kyle, driver of the steamer team. Is learning to be chauffeur for the big red pumper motor.

The test will be under the supervision of the underwriters association. Three tests-lift, plug and endurance will be made.  The place has not been designated.


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