June 11, 2007

Dairy Days celebration delivers fun to Dryden

Dairy Days

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
A float by the Dryden Historical Society goes under the American flag along Main Street in Dryden Saturday during the Dairy Days parade.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Amid all the bustling activity Saturday at Dryden’s annual Dairy Days, Emily Gray’s homemade T-shirt, with a bronze cowbell necklace hanging over the top of it, stood out.
“Happy Dryden Dairy Days!” the shirt proclaimed. “Cows belong in Dryden!”
“I’m not sure why, but I’ve just always loved cows,” said Gray, 12, a sixth-grader at Dryden Middle School, who said she’s been attending Dairy Days as long as she can remember.
“And I just love all the excitement,” she said, gesturing toward hundreds of friends, neighbors and visitors to Dryden enjoying the multitude of activities available at the event.
After lining Main Street to take in the Dairy Parade, the large crowd funneled into Montgomery Park to take part in the festivities, which included live music, a petting zoo, booths selling crafts, baked goods and other foods, and games such as calf-roping, a dunk tank and a football toss.
The lines were longest for the “Dryden Grange Ice Cream Parlor,” which offered a one-scoop ice cream cone for 25 cents, and a two-scoop cone for 50 cents.
Kahli Merriman, 9, said her vanilla ice cream cone was worth the wait.
“It’s pretty good,” said Merriman, adding that she had marched in the parade with her classmates from Cassavant Elementary School in Dryden, playing tunes such as “Hot Cross Buns” and “Cotton-eyed Joe” on her recorder.
“It’s just fun to get out and see people,” said Kahli’s mother, Shannon Merriman.
Underneath one of the large picnic tents organizers had set up for the event, Dryden High School teacher Mike Mangini dug into a still-warm cherry pie, baked by a former student of his named Hope Mead.
“I figured my former student baked it, it’s still warm, so it’s got to trump all other pies,” Mangini said. “And it’s never going to taste better than right now, so we decided rather than take it home we’d just eat it here and call it breakfast.”
Mangini’s friend Rebecca Damiani, who was visiting from Trumansburg, agreed that the pie was excellent, but questioned Mangini’s method for eating, which consisted of simply digging in with a couple of plastic forks.
“I’ve never had pie without taking out slices,” Damiani joked. “This was all his idea.”
At the petting zoo, kids had the chance to pet goats and sheep, including Jacob sheep, which, according to Rosemary Roenke, whose older sister Marie raises the sheep, are quite rare.
“They’re called Jacob sheep, they can have between two and six horns, they all have spots, and they’re pretty rare,” said Rosemary, 11, whose family brought the animals from their Spot Hollow Farm in Trumansburg.
Rosemary’s mother, Sue, was nearby, sitting exhausted against a tree.
“If I’m a little out of breath, it’s because one of the rams just jumped the fence and I had to go chasing him around,” Sue Roenke said.
Marie Roenke, 15, said she started off with an interest in raising goats for milk but she quickly became interested in sheep, particularly Jacob sheep because they’re a rare breed.
She now has 42 animals, she said, with another one on the way.
“It’s just something I wanted to do,” Marie Roenke said as she watched over the countless young people pawing at her animals.
While the curious looking Jacob sheep and the bargain basement ice cream definitely drew a crowd at Dairy Day, no event was a bigger hit than the dunk tank, at which, for a dollar, anyone could throw three balls at a target in hopes of knocking a teacher into a freezing cold tub of water.
“It’s really very cold,” said Jennifer Dubey, recreation director for the town of Dryden, who said that in about a half hour sitting on the small seat above the tank, she’d been dunked a dozen times. “I’ve got to go back up there in about 10 minutes, I just needed to warm up.”
Because many kids in Dryden know Dubey well, she said, she was “quite a target.”
Kenny Bennett, 12, was one of the Dryden youths to knock Dubey off her pedestal.
“It felt pretty good, my arm felt pretty solid,” Bennett said. “I’ll probably do it again, it’s pretty amusing and it makes everybody laugh.”




Former boat builders reminisce

Employees of Thompson Boat gather for reunion Sunday

Staff Reporter

SOLON — It took a little bit Sunday before employees of the former Thompson Brothers Boat Co. recognized each other. Many hadn’t seen each other in about 40 years.
They had gathered at the Solon Sportsman Club for the company’s first reunion.
The company opened its plant on Elm Street in Cortland in the 1920s.
Many of the former employees worked during the last days of the plant, when fiberglass was taking over the marine industry and wooden boats, including those made by Thompson, were gradually being replaced.
Former employee Howard Henry, of McGraw, had decided that the company had gone long enough without a reunion.
“I wish I’d thought of it 10 years ago,” Henry said Sunday.
Many of the employees still live in the area, when they’re not escaping winter in warmer, southern locales.
Ted Thompson, one of the brothers who owned the boat company, said Henry had hatched the idea last year  and a group of former boat builders got behind it.
“We were surprised by how many people we could find,” Thompson said as the reunion wound down Sunday afternoon.
About 35 people made it to the reunion.
The wooden boats and canoes were produced at a factory on Elm Street in Cortland.
National manufacturer Chris-Craft bought the company in 1962, and the factory began producing fiberglass boats. It built the plant now owned by ETL Simko on Route 11 in Polkville in 1963, Thompson said.
He said that once the first energy crisis hit the country in 1974, Chris-Craft had to consolidate its operations and made the move from seven factories to four factories, signaling the end of the construction of the boats in Cortland when the factory was closed.


Sunshine smiles on 16th annual Bluegrass on Green

Organizers estimate total attendance Saturday was around 1,200 people

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The deft banjo-work and rich, mellow harmonies were a given.
It was a warm sun that sliced through the morning’s clouds and a light breeze that kept the hundreds sprawled out on the grass cool, making Homer’s 16th annual Bluegrass on the Green an especial slice of heaven.
“Who doesn’t want to sit in the middle of the park on a beautiful sunny day and listen to some music?” said Tom Fetterman, a folk and bluegrass music fan from Cayuga, who was enjoying the music on a picnic blanket with his friend Cheryl Schulte.
“And on top of it all, it’s a great excuse not to mow my lawn,” Fetterman said.
Schulte said she and Fetterman are fans of Cortland-based Delaney Brothers Bluegrass, but that they were enjoying all the artists at the event, which also included performances by Stump Hollow, Al and Kathy Bain, and the Gospel Way.
“I just love the harmony, the liveliness of it,” Schulte said of bluegrass, as The Gospel Way finished up its set. “It’s nice to have some variety and it’s always fun to hear it live.”
Ray Delaney, of the Delaney Brothers and one of the chief organizers of the event, estimated that total attendance for the day was around 1,200, with a peak of 700 listeners at a given time sitting in lawn chairs, on blankets or just stretched out on the grass, enjoying the music and the spring weather.
Lucretia Loveless and her husband, Arthur, sat enjoying hot dogs and soaking up some sun with their grandchildren, Kayla and Brandon.
“He likes this sort of music so we came out,” Lucretia Loveless said, pointing to Arthur.
“We’re having a good time, eating hot dogs, just listening … it’s a lot nicer today than it was yesterday,” she said, referring to hot, sticky temperatures Friday.
Meanwhile in the grass in front of First United Methodist Church of Homer, Melanie Cook and her son Jake Ryan, watched Jake’s daughter Madyson, 1, toddle off, dancing to the music, while his son Jonathon, 8, tried to corral her back toward the rest of the family.
“Any kind of music, she loves it,” Cook said of Madyson. “This is always a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon … it brings people out, and brings them together.”