Anyone who was out and about last Saturday, Oct. 6 in Jackson and Vinton counties had ample opportunities to enjoy themselves and be entertained at several family-friendly events.

Sts. Peter and Paul School in Wellston conducted its annual Oktoberfest. The Friends of Buckeye Furnace welcomed visitors to the historic site in Milton Township for its Fall Festival. The Jackson Firefighters Association hosted its annual Bean Dinner/Hog Roast/Car Show at Manpower Park in Jackson. In Oak Hill, the Festival of Flags Committee conducted a first-time event -- a Monster Mash Kids’ Halloween Costume Dance at the Madison-Jefferson Bingo Hall. Meanwhile, at the other end of the county in Wellston, the Haunted Barn made its debut at the Jackson County Fairgrounds. Last, but certainly not least, the Vinton County Junior Fair Board rolled out its inaugural and ambitious three-day Oktoberfest celebration at the Vinton County Fairgrounds.

That tired old complaint we often hear around here that “there’s nothing to do” certainly rings hollow when you consider this aforementioned lineup. Without a doubt, these events together provided a wide variety of activities and attractions to suit all ages and tastes. There was live music, fun competitions, great homemade food at affordable prices, Halloween-related fun with costumes and scares, and the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones.

While the entertainment/enjoyment value of these notable community events to the general public are undeniable, perhaps the more impressive factor is that all-volunteer groups plan and conduct them as fundraisers to support other important community projects and/or events. These events are clear evidence that a lot of good people care enough about their home counties and communities to volunteer their time and talents to make a positive difference for the rest of us:

* The Vinton County Junior Fair Board put in all that work and time on Oktoberfest to raise money for improvement and maintenance projects at the fairgrounds and to utilize the fairgrounds as a go-to place other times than just fair week.

* The Junior Fair Livestock Committee, meanwhile, of the Jackson County Fair, has been quite successful with its Haunted Barn project, the proceeds of which are used to support the overall Junior Fair program. While many folks have enjoyed their annual “Fright at the Fairgrounds” experience, they should also realize that preparing for it and conducting it takes tons of volunteer time.

* Sts. Peter and Paul School is one of the most respected institutions in the county and it has a loyal and strong support and following in the local area. As a private school, it must raise a large share of its operating costs and the Oktoberfest event is one of its largest annual fundraisers with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the school and its noble mission.

* The Festival of Flags Committee, served by the civic-minded folks of Oak Hill, has adopted a dual purpose of raising money for the festival while organizing worthy community activities such as the Monster Mash Kids’ Halloween Costume Dance. In many cases, the committee is partnering with the Madison-Jefferson Firefighters Association on these projects and events.

* The Buckeye Furnace Historic Site – an attraction many local people have probably never visited because of its remote location – truly ranks as one of Jackson County’s jewels. The Friends of Buckeye Furnace, which is affiliated with the Jackson Historical Society, came to the rescue a number of years ago when the Ohio Historical Society (now the Ohio History Connection) had to withdraw some of its oversight responsibilities for a number of its historic sites due to financial constraints. The Friends group conducts the Fall Festival and other annual events to support the continued operation of the site.

* The Jackson Fire Department members, in addition to their firefighting work, also donate their time as volunteers to raise the money needed to properly provide the department with necessary vehicles and equipment. That’s why the group works hard to put on events such as the Bean Dinner/Hog Roast/Car Show Pig Iron Day, Breakfast With Santa and the Santa’s House project.  Meanwhile, the Car Show and auction portions of the event is put on by the husband/wife duo of Ancil and Wanda Cross of Cross and Sons Farm Equipment, who have remained grateful for what the fire department did when their business caught on fire many years ago.

The bottom line: Don’t say there’s nothing going on or that nobody cares about making a difference. Just open your eyes and experience it.

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That’s About It… Be Seeing You.