Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Annual Picnic and Bazaar set for Tuesday

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Montgomery General Hospital’s 87th annual Picnic and Bazaar, an event that has remained pretty much unchanged as Olney has evolved from a sleepy crossroads to the vibrant community it is today, will be held next week.

The beloved rite of summer, sponsored each year by the hospital’s Women’s Board, will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday on the old hospital grounds at Olney-Sandy Spring Road (Route 108) and Prince Philip Drive.

‘‘For many people, it’s just a tradition,” event chairwoman Dee Hawkins said. ‘‘But some people don’t know about it, and they just have to try it.

‘‘Its one of a few events that the whole family can enjoy, and a tradition to teach the children about,” she added. ‘‘It’s a good thing to carry on and support.”

Opening ceremonies will begin with Montgomery General President and CEO Peter Monge welcoming visitors to the affair. The Sandy Spring American Legion will post the colors and Sarah Ansaldi of North Conway, N.H., will sing the National Anthem.

The star attraction of the event each year is the fried chicken, which is made from the same recipe that Women’s Board members have been using for decades. The chicken stand draws a steady stream of customers from morning until evening.

Even people that do not normally eat fried chicken say they look forward to the tender, juicy chicken that is fried right on the premises by the many volunteers.

Although much remains the same, the event’s organizers say they listen to comments and tweak the event each year.

This year, in addition to white meat and dark meat platters, picnic-goers can purchase and order of just wings.

Many people also have requested fruit, especially if it is a hot day, which it usually is. Organizers have responded with a few new offerings, including apples, fresh fruit cups and Rita’s Italian Ice.

‘‘There are no major changes, but we have added a little more variety this year,” Hawkins said.

There will be several other food choices, including fresh corn on the cob, barbeque, hot dogs, cotton candy, ice cream, popcorn and plenty of cold drinks.

As for shopping, there will be antiques, books, CDs, DVDs, collectibles, jewelry, plants, garden produce and a baked goods booth that Hawkins says will be bigger and better than in recent years.

Additionally, the Thrift Shop will be open for business the entire day.

Kiddieland will return with a moonbounce, games and prizes for the children.

Entertainment will include Dick Janney and Bill Slade with the Dixie Wind performing bluegrass, the Modeling Moppets, the Sharp Street Choir and the Olney Community Band under the direction of Brian Dameron.

Local resident Bill Thomas will serve as master of ceremonies for the event.

The Picnic & Bazaar is one of the ways in which the Women’s Board raises funds for the pledges it has made for the Pediatric Emergency Department, Cardiovascular Lab and the Capital Campaign Fund for the expansion of the hospital, as well as annually awarding scholarships to students pursuing careers in healthcare fields.

This year, the Women’s Board awarded $65,000 in scholarships.

The Picnic and Bazaar involves hundreds of volunteer hours given by board members, service organizations, individuals and hospital employees.

‘‘As I have ask people to volunteer with the picnic and bazaar, people say that the hospital has been good to them, and without hesitation, offer to help any way they can,” Hawkins said. ‘‘There are a lot of service organizations including the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club and the Scouts that do a lot for the community, but this is one event when we all come together.”

The volunteers work on a variety of tasks ranging from planning and set-up of the grounds to husking and silking the corn, frying the chicken, and running the activities and booths. The work continues through the breakdown at the close of the event.

‘‘Obviously, we not only depend on those who help put on the Picnic and Bazaar, but also on those who attend and enjoy the traditional food, games, booths and community camaraderie,’ Hawkins said.

If you go

The Montgomery General Hospital Women’s Board’s 87th annual Picnic and Bazaar will open at 10 a.m. July 24 on the old hospital grounds at Olney-Sandy Spring Road (Route 108) and Prince Philip Drive.

The entertainment schedule includes:

*10 a.m. — Opening

*11 to 11:45 a.m. — Janney & Slade

*Noon to 12:45 p.m. — Sharp Street Choir under the direction of Rita Dunston

*1 to 1:30 p.m. — Modeling Moppets under the direction of Katherine Mizell

*2 to 2:30 p.m. — Jugglers from Boy Scout Troop 457

*3 to 3:30 p.m. — Modeling Moppets under the direction of Katherine Mizell

*4 to 4:45 p.m. — Dixie Wind Band

*5 to 5:45 p.m. — Dixie Wind Band

*6 to 6:45 p.m. — Sharp Street Choir under the direction of Rita Dunston

*6:45 to 8 p.m. — Olney Community Band under the direction of Brian Dameron