72nd Flaming Foliage Festival is Oct. 8 to 10
One of Clinton County’s longest-standing events is back this fall after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are glad for its return.
The Pennsylvania State Flaming Foliage Festival — always the second full weekend in October — draws visitors from across the state and beyond to western Clinton County and the community of Renovo.
For some, it’s a chance to see the fall foliage, take in one of the largest parades around, and browse through an ever-growing food and crafts fair that this year will feature about 170 vendors. For others, it’s a homecoming, a chance to spend time with family and old friends.
No matter which, Flaming Foliage is a fall tradition in Clinton County, and people weren’t happy in 2020 when the pandemic messed with that tradition.
“Our Flaming Foliage Committee as well as myself couldn’t believe that the 2020 festival needed to be cancelled,” says Committee co-chair Pattie Rauch. “But support from the community as well as from former residents has been overwhelming, so much so, that Flaming Foliage will happen this year. From Facebook comments to seeing people around the community, they greet you saying, ‘Thank you for keeping this festival going.'”
Rauch and co-chair Dave Watt are part of a small, hard-working committee that organizes the annual Flaming Foliage Festival, now marking its 72nd year.
In addition to serving as co-chair, Rauch coordinates both the impressive Flaming Foliage Parade of Queens, which takes place Saturday at 1:45 p.m., as well as the craft fair that opens at 10 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She says craft vendors and bands and units for the parade are registering every day, adding that those participants are also glad to be headed back to Renovo for the October 8-10 event.
As for Watt, he’s another one who loves tradition. He says the parade has only been cancelled one time in the history of the festival, due to thunder and lightning. And, he’s driven his great grandfather’s 1921 Model-T Ford in every parade since 1963, and has been a member of the FFF Committee since 1973.
“I echo what Pattie was saying,” says Watt. “There has been a lot of community support, from individuals and businesses – a lot of people are looking forward to Flaming Foliage weekend.”
One facet of the festival has been altered this year because of ongoing COVID concerns. The Queens contest, which typically sees queen contestants – high school seniors from schools around the region – arriving in Renovo on Friday afternoon with their escorts and staying in private homes through Sunday evening for the coronation of a new Flaming Foliage Queen, will be condensed into a single day on Saturday of festival weekend.
“We’re disappointed the queen contestants will have a shorter stay locally, but felt this was the best, safest way to handle things this year,” says FFF Committee member Maria Ransom, who serves as the Queens Advisor. “On the bright side, we hope more people will be able to enjoy the Queens coronation ceremony, which will be held Saturday evening – at 7:30 p.m. at Bucktail High School – instead of Sunday afternoon when many people may already be heading home.”
In addition to Rauch, Watt and Ransom, Flaming Foliage Committee members include Treasurer and festival program book chair Joyce Stewart; Secretary Dennis Smith; Queen Judges Coordinator Chris Haas; and committee members Mary Charcalla, Julie, Stacy and Brittanie Jones, Bruce Ransom, Alex and Kevin Rauch, Trish Gentzyel, Dick and Millie Grenell, Terri Buranosky, Deb and Vince Tarantella, Mark Campbell, Joann Knauff, Vickie Morocko and Martha Sykes.
Sykes and Maria Ransom organize the FFF Follies talent show scheduled for October 2 at 7:00 p.m. at Bucktail High School. As part of the Follies, Terri Buranosky and Deb Tarantella coordinate the contest that sees a Future Queen and Escort crowned.
Another fundraiser coming up this weekend is the Ping Pong Palooza on Saturday, September 18 starting at 11:00 a.m. at the Flaming Foliage Lot. Ping Pong Balls are sold at $10 apiece for this fun drawing, with the first prize being $300 in cash. Second prize is a $100 gift card from Tony’s Hardware in Renovo, and third prize is a one-year subscription to The Record newspaper. The day also includes a sale of homemade ham pot pie and a variety of soups, as well as a basket raffle. Pattie Rauch encourages people to get there early as the food is always a sell-out!
The Ping Pong Palooza and the Follies are among several fundraisers the committee undertakes throughout the year to help finance the annual Flaming Foliage Festival. Some of the fundraisers weren’t able to happen last year as well, so the FFF Committee is especially thankful for the strong show of community support surrounding this year’s event.
“I think everyone missed it (the festival) so much last year, they’ve been wonderful,” says Rauch of the local community. “I’m even more excited this year to be part of a great committee and I look forward to October 8, 9 and 10.”
For more information on the Festival, visit the newly-updated website, www.pastateflamingfoliagefestival.org.
Pennsylvania State Flaming
P.O. Box 271, Renovo, Pa., 17764