Allegany State Park To Host Hootenanny

This marks the 42nd year of Sally Marsh’s Hootenanny at Allegany State Park.

While still in high school, Marsh began her career at the park as a life guard both at the Fancher Pool and the beaches of Quaker and Red House Lakes. Raised in Salamanca, Allegany State Park was a perfect destination for the singer; as is the beauty of the Quaker Amphitheatre a perfect setting for the weekly hootenanny held Thursday evenings throughout the season.

Marsh’s tour with Allegany has spanned her college and professional careers, parenthood, and now extends into her retirement years. The Randolph resident has dedicated every Thursday, of every week, of every summer since 1971 to the sing-a-long. The Hootenanny goes on rain or shine – each week to the enjoyment of campers, staff, visitors and area residents alike.

The Amphitheatre’s wooden benches and the grassy sloping hill behind them are filled with children, families, and friends joining together to enjoy the music, camaraderie, and fun emanating from that clearing in the woods.

When asked what has brought her back to the Hootenanny for 42 consecutive summers, Marsh replied, “Who wouldn’t want to do it? Who wouldn’t want to see all those kids having fun? Or those families making memories for a lifetime? And to hear all those stories of the times they’ve been there before … Some of those couples met at the park- and now they bring their kids or their grandkids … That’s why I do it … That’s what it’s all about.”

This year Marsh is bringing something special to the hootenanny.

One of the standing highlights of the Thursday night shows is the singing of “Old Mac Donald’s Farm” by all who wish to get up and share a verse with the group; resulting in sometimes 50 or more singing the children’s favorite. The song continues until all those wishing to sing have done so. It’s something Marsh is adamant about.

“Everyone that wants to gets a chance to join in – a chance to perform for their friends and family,” she said. “It’s important to make them feel special, to make them feel they are a part of what the hootenanny is all about.”

After an evening of many singers, Marsh joked to friends about setting a world record for the song – with research soon disclosing a standing Guinness World Record set in Milan, Italy, in 2009, involving 332 people and verses. And so – with the co-sponsorship of Allegany State Park – the “Sally’s Hootenanny World Record Attempt 2013” was born.

Set for 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug.17, at the Quaker Amphitheatre on ASP 3, Allegany State Park, Marsh, a troop of friends, and an army of volunteers plan on breaking that record.

This will be an official world record attempt, staged under the auspices of the Guinness World Record Association. Participants will be required to adhere to stringent guidelines presented by the Guinness organization, mandatory for their acceptance and judgment of the record-breaking event .

A $5 donation is being accepted with pre-registration forms, submitted to: Sally Marsh – 88 Jamestown St., Randolph, N.Y. 14772. Questions can also be directed to Marsh at 358-2102.

This, along with the generosity of sponsors, will provide a T-shirt for each participant commemorating this day. As with all projects of this magnitude, costs are high, and donations are being gratefully accepted.

Quick to lend support were John and Jamie Morreale of Morreale Collision and Rust Repair. The third-generation body man and his wife jumped aboard the hootenanny project train quickly, eager to become supporting sponsors of the event.

“Sally Marsh is a wonderful person,” Jamie Morreale said. “She gives and gives to whatever cause for whomever’s benefit, and we wanted to give something back to her. She believes in Allegany, and promotes the park as a fantastic, fun-filled destination for visitors and locals alike. Because of Sally, and people like her, the Southern Tier is growing, blossoming, and providing homes, jobs, and lifetimes of memories once again.”

“I’ve been fishing and hunting in the area around and within Allegany for 30 years,” added John Morreale. “Some of my fondest memories are of spending those times with my grandfathers, my dad, my whole family – enjoying that beautiful territory. It’s our responsibility to help conserve, to protect, and preserve this land for our children, their children, and the generations after that.”