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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

PRIDE tries to keep festival alive

Monday, April 12, 2010

ROACHDALE -- Last July, the community in northern Putnam County saw the return of an event that put them on the map in 1981 -- the Roachdale Roach Race.

This year, members of the committee who worked the past two years to put together the race, parade and summer festival are worried about keeping the movement going.

"The last two years have illustrated that working together we can revive Summerfest. Additional, people contributing their efforts can make a great event possible, but it's important that we enlist additional volunteers," said committee member Bonnie Yahraus at a meeting last week.

Despite terrible weather, financial constraints and the need for volunteers, the group was able to pull off the second year of the Summerfest that is a revival of a Fourth of July celebration from nearly 30 years ago.

The group calling themselves PRIDE is hoping that moving the event to a one-day festival on June 26 will help to bring out the community.

"We heard from so many people that they would like to take part or to help but couldn't because they had Fourth of July plans, so we are moving the event earlier in the summer," said Yahraus.

A planning meeting is slated for 6:30 p.m. on April 14 at Roachdale Elementary School and anyone interested in helping with the festival is asked to attend.

"This is all about building community spirit," said Roachdale Elementary Principal Scott Spencer. "We need to see more people on board and involved."

Spencer, a lifelong resident of the area, recalled great memories of Summerfest in its heyday.

"It was a week long when I was a kid and it seemed like it went on forever. We looked forward to it every year. I even won the Roach Race a time or two," grinned Spencer.

"This is all part of the big vision of bringing Roachdale, Bainbridge and Russellville together as a North Putnam community. We can't just be one community or the other any more. We have to all come together and this is a great way to start," Spencer told the committee.

Connie Edwards and her family organized the Roach Races and were instrumental in pulling the parade together last year.

Edwards vowed she and her family would make sure there would be both a parade and a Roach Race regardless of whatever else the committee could produce this year.

"Last year it was just a really, really good time. People were selling roach earrings and necklaces, decorating their critters and having fun," said Edwards.

Three-time Roach Race winner Larry Kersey helped Putnam County Museum past director Anne Lovold display the famous 'race track' used during the 1980s races. The event will be coming back for its second year this June during the North Putnam area's Summerfest.
"What will keep me going is hearing Connie say, 'There will be a parade and a Roach Race.' Her 'I can do that' attitude is what we need to grow. So we can talk to people and help organize and help with publicity and paint flags and put out signs and paint windows but we just need a little help. Won't somebody please help?" added Yahraus.

Some interest has been expressed in having a gourmet hot dog booth, snow-cone booth and pet parade.

The VFW declined moving their annual fish fry from the fourth of July to the June date, so the group is hoping one or more of the churches or organizations will come forward and offer some food venues such as a pancake breakfast.

Treva Burgess is both a volunteer for the committee and a PTO member of Roachdale Elementary School. She is also a scout leader and presented a number of fun and inexpensive games and activities that could be available for children at Summerfest.

These include a water toss with sponges, newspaper hats and other craft projects, as well as scoop ball and face painting.

PRIDE hopes local merchants will have a sidewalk sale that day and that a local farmer's market might take place along with a flea market and arts and crafts vendors.

People are needed to help with publicity and fundraising, groups for major food events, organizers for sale related activities, organizers for a car show, children's activities and entertainment venues.

Parade participants, window painters, flea marketers and crafters and well as food vendors are also needed.

"This is a great way for groups or organizations to make money," said Yahraus.

Spencer mentioned the possibility of a dodge ball and softball tourney for middle school and older participants. Corn hole tourneys; horseshoes and other contests could also be put together.

Anyone with ideas and a willingness to share in a great community event should attend the next PRIDE meeting on April 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Roachdale Elementary School.

"This is such a great opportunity to bring people back together and share that camaraderie. We just need to get more people together in order to get more people," said Scott.

Anyone interested in helping or who needs more information can contact Nancy Buser at 522-1244, Holly Cook at 522-1950, Connie Edwards at 522-1781, Barb Phelps at 942-2898 or Bonnie Yahraus at 522-1430.

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