It was pouring rain, but it didn’t matter to the 4-year-olds running around, jumping in the puddles and giggling uncontrollably.
It was last Friday night at what they call Valley Days in Conyngham, an annual two-day festival that draws residents from all over the Sugarloaf-Drums-Hazleton area and beyond.
The fun wasn’t exclusive to the very young in attendance. Many of the adults took it as a chance to meet old friends, grab a bite to eat, and chit-chat a bit. (Imagine that, people talking in a face-to-face format rather than via text or over the computer. Amazing!)
Similar scenes are repeated all over the area this time of year at each of the bazaars and festivals that have become summertime traditions — whether hosted by your local church, a civic group or some other entity.
And if you’re into that kind of fun, this weekend is for you.
The 15th annual Plymouth Alive Kielbasa Festival — organizers are now calling it “The Original” — kicks off Friday afternoon with a student band performance, followed by a polka band and then other entertainment to go along with all the kielbasa your belly could hold.
Saturday features a parade, which starts lining up at 10 a.m. and steps off at 11; a kielbasa competition beginning at 1 p.m.; plus a whole lot of other fun.
For those of you who have never been, you might want to make a point of stopping by.
After all, when in your lifetime will you get another chance to see mascot Kielbasa Man dressed up as a disco-loving John Travolta? (It’s in keeping with this year’s theme: “Stayin’ Alive.”)
All kidding aside, these community festivals — whether in Conyngham, Plymouth, Mountain Top (this weekend is the famous St. Jude’s Picnic) or anywhere else — help define what community is all about.
First, these events support good causes. The organizer of the Kielbasa Festival, Plymouth Alive, has done a whale of good for the borough.
Here are just a few examples:
• A $1,200 donation to the Plymouth Public Library for the 2017 children’s summer reading program.
• A $900 donation to the library for stationery.
• 29 new street signs for Plymouth’s Main Street at a cost of $1,400.
• Replacement Taser cartridges for Plymouth police officers, along with a Breathalyzer unit for use in Plymouth patrol cars and a $1,600 ballistic shield.
• More donations to borough fire companies; $500 to the Knights of Columbus for its annual coat drive; and a few thousand to the Plymouth Shawnee Indians mini-football/cheerleading program.
In addition to all that, the true beauty of kielbasa time or church picnic time is the time spent with friends and neighbors.
That became crystal clear when observing the joy on the 4-year-olds’ faces — many of them in a preschool program together — as they dashed through puddles last week in Conyngham and gleefully chased each other.
Sure, mom and dad can take them on vacation or to the amusement park. But there are precious few chances for all of them to be in the same festive environment together.
Same goes for adults. And in case you’ve never noticed, it’s good for us simply to be around other people. (There are biological reasons for this you can discover through a simple Google search if you don’t believe us.)
So enjoy the kielbasa everyone.
Just make sure you grab a heaping helping of companionship as well.
— Times Leader