Nothing is more wonderful than autumn weather, until the cold wind blows and rain drops come tumbling down at the same time.
This is what happened Saturday at the Unionport Apple Stirrin', but it was still a fun time seeing friends and getting warmed up with homemade beef and vegetable soups at the Country Kitchen.
Mary Catherine Mull has asked me to judge the apple pie baking contest for more than 20 years, and I have met many new people who served as judges with me. There were 12 pies to judge, and I was pleased to see that little Jessie Starkweather had a pie in the contest. She made a latticed top that is no easy task. It didn't win but was up there with the tops ones. The winners were Jeremy and Tracy McClure, Anna Ault and JoAnna Mann. Tammy Burchfield was the judge with me, and we had a nice time working together.
Crystal Conaway, left, and Carolyn Beebee sold gigantic cookies at the Gingerbread Man House.
Ralph Simmons is a charter member of the Apple Stirrin’ Festival.
Xander Everson, 8, a member of Unionport Cub Scout Troop 192, worked at the Scout’s concession stand selling decorated pumpkins, jellies and popcorn.
“Bunkie” Tindor, left, winner of $500 in the Hounds’ Haven reverse drawing, and Tricia Firman, Janet Polverini’s niece, share a laugh.
Robin Cibulka, left, Hounds’ Haven director, and Mary Ellen Freiling, Janet Polverini’s sister, stop for a minute to talk.
Alex Haagen and Daniel Hall, Scouts with Boy Scout Troop 192, were having trouble with smoke getting in their eyes while stirring bean soup and chili in large kettles over an open fire, especially with the wind.
Xander Everson was selling decorated pumpkins, homemade jellies and popcorn at the Unionport Cub Scout Troop 192 stand.
Noelle and Jared Koos were pushing their 14-month-old son, Carter, around in a stroller - no easy task on the hilly terrain at the festival.
The Vinyl Classics sang a favorite of mine from the 1950s-1960s era, "Save the Last Dance for Me," from the Apple Stirrin' stage. They acknowledged me as I took their picture.
Stepping into the Gingerbread Man Cabin was like going back to another time with the pot belly stove putting out nice warmth. There was a gas stove like I can remember from my grandmother Anna Kollar's kitchen in the one-room cabin, too. What was more eye catching was the table filled with gigantic cookies ranging from sugar cookies, gingerbread boys, oatmeal-raisin and chocolate chip. Crystal Conaway and Carolyn Beebee were in charge of the sales.
Another weekend event attended by the McCoys was the Hounds' Haven Reverse Drawing and Dinner held at St. Florian Hall.
I got to meet some of Janet Polverini's relatives and good friends at the event where she made arrangements for some of the great food served by Todd Piergallini and many of the door prizes. She wanted so much to attend the benefit for the furry animals but is under care at Trinity Medical Center East and wasn't up to it.
Janet made many of the arrangements for door prizes from the three telephones she has in her hospital room. "I feel better when I know I am doing something for somebody else," she said. She has worked on several fundraisers during her two-month stay in the hospital and, like the Ever-Ready Bunny, she intends to keep on going and going.
She also is sending a multitude of recipes for the Holiday Cookbook Contest from her bed. Her sister, Mary Ellen Freiling, tells me that she will make the product if Janet is selected in the Top 10 of any category for the Nov. 8 taste-off.
I met another of her sisters, Nancy Firman, in, of all places, the restroom. And Nancy's daughter, Tricia, came over to tell me that they had paid a visit to Janet before coming to the Hounds' Haven event. "Janet has received so many visitors, cards and gifts and is so appreciative of everything," she told me.
It was nice to see Frank and Jody Vostatek there. He was principal of Northwest Elementary School in Smithfield when Larry and Jay were there and always remembers me.
Our table of seven people got many looks when Rick Pastre played "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" on the accordion and asked everyone to stand while the music flowed. This is a favorite of Janet's, I am told. Anyhow, our table of Marjie Defede, John Domenick, Fran Crawford, Penny DiLoreto, John McIntyre and Lamont and me held hands and started to sway to the music. We tried to get others to do it as well, but no one would join in. It was done in joy for Janet. But seriously, she needs many prayers. If attitude and faith alone would heal, she would be out in a week, as she has that strong a belief and trust.
Domenick was the high bidder on the last ticket that did not sell for the reverse auction. He put it up for bid and then bid $85 to an $80 bid. But it went on until he topped it all with a $105 bid. Sad to say it was not one of the money winners, but it gave him a good feeling to be doing it for Hounds' Haven.
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)