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Saturday, July 29, 2006 -- Waynesburg, PA
Waynesburg Rain Day Race (iPO Event Id#: 7535)

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8]
Past Results: [2000] [2002] [2003]

Photos by Jason Black with story by Julie Black

The anatomy of the small town festival

Photo by Jason Black
Waiting for some rain

It's all about basic marketing. You take a product, develop a plan, and sell it. It borders on genius I tell you, simply brilliant! Only you don't have to be a marketing guru to look around your community to find it. No, all it takes is an idea and someone to run with it. Next thing you know, your town of 10,000 people attracts over 100,000 out-of-towners to come see a 50-year old, 9-ton ball of twine at the 30th annual Cawker City Picnic and Twine-a-Thon. You think I'm joking don't you? Think again.

A festival can be about a simple story or legend, a celebration of fruit or vegetable, or just a made up reason to get together and celebrate. After all, do we really need a reason to party? America is proud of its small towns and quirky ways, but the most interesting thing in all of these tiny communities is the people.

Photo by Jason Black
PA knows how to celebrate
One of the most famous ideas for an ongoing small town festival of massive proportions is actually in Pennsylvania. The original ground hog day is celebrated in the small town of Punxsutawney, population approximately 10,500 and a half people. The press and thousands upon thousands of people gather at Gobbler's Knob to freeze their rumps off and see, Punxsutawney Phil, the worlds most famous ground hog. Yes, he's made the town so famous that Hollywood has even made a movie about it, (thanks for the laughs Bill Murray.)

Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, MA has their own Pet Rock Festival, and this year, American Idol finalists Kevin Covais and Melissa McGhee were there. There are Corn Palace Festivals, mushroom, potatoes festivals, you name it. Look at and you'll find more festivals than you could shake a stick at.

Photo by Jason Black
The Rain Day Queen and her court
A most notable small fest, Waynesburg's Annual Rain Day Celebration, is also held in PA. It all began in the Daly and Spraggs Drug Store in Waynesburg when a farmer walked into the store and mentioned to the owner that it would rain the next day, July 29. The owner of the store asked the farmer how he knew and he replied, "It's always rains on my birthday." The next day it rained just as the farmer said it would. Out of curiosity, the owner of the drug store kept a July 29 Rain Day Journal for many years. It's been documented that it's rained on July 29th 109 times in the last 131 years!

Though the day was filled with heat and humidity and no rain, festival goers were showered with political signs, buttons or stickers thanks to Democrats and Republicans who attempted to take advantage of the high volume of traffic. "Every town should have something great like this that draws people in," said Kay Laskody of Waynesburg during a break in the shade. Little did she know, many towns already do.

Photo by Jason Black
McIntire wouldn't mind some rain
Miss Rain Day for 2006, Ali Nelson, posed for photo-ops with racers who were ready to hit the road for the Rain Day 5K. Well over 120 racers lined up for the 5K run and walk.

Leslie McIntire of Pittsburgh dominated the overalls in 16:45. He's a member of the Pittsburgh Pharaoh Hounds, a group of competitive middle distance and distance runners training and racing in the Pittsburgh area. Adam Shinsky a former IUP Cross Country Team Runner, took 2nd in 17:14. Ed Filcheck, who's in the top three of many local races, rounded things out with a time of 17:26.

First female and 14th overall, Ali Briggs of Washington, PA, completed the course in 19:52. Briggs is a junior on the University of Pittsburgh Women's Track and Field team. Anna Beck (19:58), formerly of Clarion University Women's Cross Country, took home 2nd and 15th overall. Sherri Martin rounded topped out the podium in 3rd with a time of 21:14. The Rain Day top walker was Shane Phillips of Sycamore, PA with a time of 30:39. Phillips was 2nd overall in the 2006 Ogden Newspapers 5K Walk.

The day continued with a live entertainment, food, crafts, games, hot dog eating contest, umbrella decoration contest, the Baby Rain Day Court and more.

Quote from the Herald Standard...
"I'm here every year. I don't miss this. I wouldn't miss this for anything," said T.J. Saveley of Franklin Township. "It's like a family reunion. I'm almost 70 years old, but it's still a lot of fun."
I don't think I could've said it better myself, T.J. Nope, I sure don't.