By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
There was plenty to do on a clear, sunny day at the Shipman Homecoming July 22.
As part of a tradition that began in 1957, a giant picnic served up a variety of food and fun on its menu.
There is so much history here that I couldn’t do it justice in a short paragraph ,” said social media manager Lori Hopkins.
The Homecoming celebration was born when a group of women came together to improve the community 66 years ago. They cleaned up the park, built a pavilion and stage, brought in the Little Red Schoolhouse and added the museum. They also brought programs to schools and entertained many – far and wide – with their unique look and engaging performances using instruments that they had built out of kitchen gadgets.
The Homecoming board had been brainstorming an idea of utilizing a new pavilion for years. Beginning last summer, that time had come.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held the evening of July 21, followed by a tribute to the Kitchen Klatter Band.
SAPA President Steve Reed brought some laughs and some emotional gratitude that night as well, giving thanks to the many who contributed to the improvements of the park, from corporate sponsors, donors and volunteers.
A 5k-Fun Run was the kickoff for July 22, when approximately 40 participants walked for pleasure or ran for gold. The event was coordinated by Deb Mansfield, an experienced runner that had participated in many 5ks.
Breakfast was a big hit as well. Eggs, biscuits & gravy, and sausage with coffee or water were on sale for a discounted deal of eight bucks.
A car show, promoted by Jason Cox, featured a total of 78 vehicles.
The Kidz Zone, arranged by Carol Burns Loy, included a full-sized tent with loads of games and activities. Additionally, a magician and balloon artist were entertaining little ones throughout the park.
The food stand was open for lunch and dinner as well. Menu items included catfish, buffalo, and pork chop sandwiches, as well as plenty of delicious desserts from which to choose.
“Our fabulous attendees come with the expectation of getting some pretty good grub,” said Hopkins. “We have some pretty spectacular volunteers behind the scenes and donors who bring various food items and supplies, including some of the best desserts. Nancy and Ben Stinnett dedicate much time to preparing for this event. And it takes many volunteers to make it all happen.”
Jersey County Corn Hole coordinated a tournament of 60 players.
Inflatables were enjoyed by kids of all ages as well. The area was complete with a bounce house, obstacle course, slide, and four water-themed fortresses.
“We could not be happier with Bounce Happy Rentals and highly recommend,” Hopkins said. “The owner, Matt, was on site and engaged at every turn. This was definitely the big hit with kids.”
As expected, the Shipman parade was “mighty with many from the community and surrounding areas showing up in style.” However, the board looks to elevate it even higher by promoting a grand float-building challenge for 2024.
Other attractions included axe-throwing, a Farm & Home Museum that exhibited blasts from the past, a Beer Garden and a live country rock performance courtesy of The Glendale Riders.
This year’s Homecoming attracted a record crowd and welcomed 25 vendors with the help of Randy Darr, Melinda Barnard, and Charlotte Erwin. The picnic also featured carnival food stands that served shaved ice, lemonade shake-ups, funnel cakes, foot-long corndogs and pork rinds.
Overall, the Shipman community raised approximately $25,140.50.
“We couldn’t have been blessed with a better weekend,” Hopkins said. “Many were in attendance and the weather was perfect. We are so grateful for the many who came out. We believe it was our best crowd. With a new pavilion and food line, we knew we’d be a work in progress. Going into the day, we expected to experience some challenges with efficiency, but the people were wonderful, patient and supportive, and excited about the beautiful new facility. Additionally, it was reported by the cleaning crew that the crowd was super tidy, as there was little trash on the grounds. Now that’s a reflection of beautiful people from the surrounding community as well as ours.”
“In the words of Helen Keller,” concluded Hopkins. “……alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”