If a person or an event needed a hand, Sandie Reese was there to lend it.
When the Larksville Volunteer Fire Co. canceled its bazaar last year, she started the Larksville Fall Festival to raise money for the fire company.
After Reese’s death from a heart attack on Feb. 16, Swoyersville Councilman Chris Concert, a good friend who volunteered with her, vowed to continue the festival in her honor.
Sandie’s Fall Festival, billed as a bigger and better event, is planned for Saturday at the Larksville Fire Company grounds at State and Nesbitt streets.
Concert, who is involved with several charity events, said Reese decided they could do a fall festival to support the fire company.
“We threw it together at the last moment,” Concert recalled. “We held it in late October. It was too cold. After last year’s event, we’re going to move it up.”
He said an October event also competes with other events, such as Halloween.
Concert said Reese, who had helped him with a Swoyersville Fire Company fundraiser, wasn’t a member of the Larksville fire company. She just wanted to help the community where she had been a longtime resident.
“As I said at her funeral, if I wanted to dig a hole to China, she would have been first one to grab a shovel,” Concert said.
Concert has taken up Reese’s shovel as this year’s event coordinator.
“When she died, I said I’m going do what she wanted,” he said. “I took it over. We’re going to make it bigger and we’re going to make it better.”
Concert, also known as “Crazy Chris,” is a longtime volunteer for various charities. He holds an annual yard sale for charity and jumped into Harveys Lake a couple of years ago to raise money for the Valley with a Heart benefit for seriously ill children. He credits the more than 30 volunteers, including Reese’s husband of 25 years, Donnie Reese, who are helping with the festival.
“Without the help of volunteers, I’m just a crazy man with ideas,” he said.
In keeping his word to make this festival bigger and better, the organizers have added vendors, an attraction where kids can bounce, a scarecrow contest and a chili contest. Those wanting to enter the scarecrow contest must call Concert to register.
“I’m inviting everyone to make a scarecrow,” he said. “I would like kids to get involved and older people to get involved.”
He said the festival is for everyone, as well.
“I want to stress this, this is not just for Larksville residents.”
The entry fee for the chili contest is $8. The prize for winning the competition is half of the money paid in entry fees. The R Bar in Nanticoke is running the contest, Concert said.
It costs $4 per vote to vote on the chili. All of the voting money collected will go to the fire company.
There will be plenty of food on hand, too, at a reasonable prices, such as dollar hamburgers and cheeseburgers.
“We’re keeping it affordable for the whole family.”
There also will be craft vendors (who must pre-register), Chinese auctions and a bake sale, but the festival could use more vendors, Concert said.
Meanwhile, festival-goers can listen and dance to Reese’s three favorite bands, who will play at various times during the day — Iron Cowboy, Licker’d Up and Breakdown Jimmy.
At noon, the organizers will pay tribute to Reese, and two of the bands will sing two special songs as a tribute to her.
“We are going to give out an award on Sandie’s behalf, an award for her dedication.”
At 4 p.m., at the end of the festival, Concert will present a check to the fire company.
“If we could have more people in this valley like her, this valley would be a perfect place to live,” he said.