ELLINGTON – The weather was ideal, and the atmosphere was festive during the 101st annual Ellington Town Picnic’s main day of events.
More than a century of tradition brought hundreds of town and area residents to Ellington’s town square Saturday in order to experience a variety of amusement rides and concessions, competitions, music, crafts and barbecues.
The picnic began at 5 p.m. on Friday with the 2013 Ms. Ellington Queen contest, which was followed by a dance featuring the Coyote Band. According to Mary Jane Griffith, co-president of the Ellington Town Picnic Association along with Mary Rhinehart, the turnout on Friday night was above average – until a 10-minute period of heavy rain drove everybody away.
The Saturday events kicked off at 9 a.m. with a baby contest, which saw 29 entries. This was followed by a first-time bingo competition at the fire hall, as well as concurrently running wood-cutting and pet contests in the park.
The wood-cutting contest featured a handful of contestants, who participated in a series of five chainsaw events and one crosscut saw event. Each event timed the contestants as they made two parallel clean cuts through a square 12-inch post. The chainsaw events showcased different depth gauges, including: zero- to 2-inch, 2-3-inch, 3-4-inch, 4-5-inch and 5 inches and over.
Don Doud, who participated in the wood-cutting contest with his son, Greg, said the contest and the Saturday evening parade are what have brought him out to the town picnic for more than four decades.
“I’ve done it for 45 years, and I mainly race against Greg,” Don said. “I used to cut and sell firewood, and Greg heats the wood. So, we just like to come down here (and compete).”
The pet competition was held in front of the town square gazebo, and received approximately 20 owner/dog entries. The contest was coordinated by Kim Swanstrom, a member of the town picnic committee, who said the contest has received up to 30 entries in previous years.
“We just try to have fun,” she said. “It’s just a small prize and a $5 bill (for the winner), but it’s an annual thing and people enjoy it.”
The competition consisted of the pets and their respective owners positioning themselves in a semi-circle in front of the judges, who ranked them in several categories. The categories included: smallest, biggest, most colorful, longest ears, best groomed, cutest, most unusual, most hyper, best dressed and prettiest eyes. The competition’s best of show award went to Chris and Tina Clark.
Several other contests were held throughout the remainder of the day, including: cake and cupcake, cornhole, horseshoes and a bicycle, tricycle and stroller contest. Music was provided by the Backwoods Bluegrass Band, Maurice Brown and Friends, Paul Zittle and Pure Country. The parade was held at 5 p.m., followed by a smorgasbord at the fire hall and the evening was capped off with a fireworks show at 10 p.m.
The picnic will continue today with a non-denominational church service at 10 a.m., and the second-annual Southern Tier mini tractor pull; which will be held at 1 p.m. at the baseball field on West Main Street.