SHERMAN – Those who like a good parade, games, crafts, auctions, music and food won’t want to miss the 30th anniversary of Sherman Days. With improved attendance and offerings annually, this year’s event will last three days from Aug. 2-4.
Although the first time Sherman Day took place under that name was three decades ago, the celebration of Sherman folk gathering together for a picnic or other similar activity has taken place for more than a century.
The first gathering of the current celebration was established by the Stanley Hose Auxiliary in 1983. The ladies wanted to bring residents and former Shermanites together in a smalltown celebration. Two years later, they turned it over to the Sherman Day Committee. The original group consisted of Pam Fisher, Debbie Wasylink and Sherry Gulczynaski, and they served for 10 years. Others joined over the years, some of whom replaced others who had moved away or wanted to step down.
Getting prepared for Sherman Days takes many people. It is not only an expensive project, the committee has to start planning for the following year soon after the current year’s event is over. As for funds for the many activities that take place, they are obtained by donations, auction proceeds and the Sherman spring yard sale.
The first annual Firemen’s Parade and inspection recorded was held on Sept. 1, 1891. Activities that day included a Hook and Ladder firemen’s run from the engine house to the tank on the corner of Main and Church streets. It took the men one minute to run this distance and put a ladder in place on the building. It took them 2 minutes to lay 300 feet of hose and to send water streaming over the top of the buildings.
The following year, Sept. 9, was Firemen’s Day, and it was a real celebration. It began with a salute at 6 a.m. to awaken any folk still sleeping. Soon thereafter, people began to arrive until the streets resembled circus day or the Fourth of July.
Henry Hooker led the parade on horseback, the village officers following Drum Major, E.C. Green, spectacular in his white bearskin hat and baton, led the 14-piece coronet band.
Bicycle and foot races were held on Main Street. The Sherman ball players displayed their talent in a games against the Creek boys. The umpire called a no game after the latter’s pitcher sprained his leg and their team refused to continue.
The evening brought a concert on Main Street, fireworks and a dance at the Opera House. Some 40 couples attended the dance.
The first Sherman Town Picnic was recorded in Mr. Taggart’s Scrapbook. No date was mentioned, but according to some of the names, it probably happened in the early 1900s. According to the account, it was an ideal day and was greatly enjoyed by the immense company which gathered at the Grove. The program was carried out about as arranged and published last week.
The Westfield band in their neat uniforms, blue trimmed in black, played several selection and then led the procession in Wilson’s grove. There were folk on foot, bicycles and in carriages. The number present was estimated at 1,200 to 2,500. Five teams were hitched in the grove. Dinner was served in the tent to the band, while others ate from their well-filled picnic baskets.
A former Sherman boy in the agricultural business at Cornell University spoke first. Other speakers gave their impressions about Sherman. They included the Rev. G.E. VanWie, A.A. VanDusen, the Rev. T.J. Wheeler, Willard W. Whitemore, the Rev. R.R. Hadley and professor Travis of Sherman High School. Exercises closed with everyone singing “America.”
The account concluded with, “The whole affair was a great success, and it is intended to have a picnic each year at which former residents may return and renew the acquaintances of the past and see the improvements that Sherman is making.”
A newspaper account in 1907 said, “It has been decided the town picnic will be omitted because there is quite a demand for public enterprises and help is very scarce.”
However, other town picnics were held over the years. The Stanley Hose Gala Days began in the 1940s.
A 1948 account stated the 2,500 were at that carnival held at Sheldon Park. Rides and concession stands were brought in by the firemen. They lasted several days, and a cleanup day was necessary following the celebration.