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Wreath decorating contest highlights Ransomville Festival of Wreaths

RANSOMVILLE -- The annual Ransomville Festival of Wreaths, planned for Nov. 26-27,  has some new treats planned for children and adults, alike, as well as the return of some favorite activities.

“This is an opportunity for the community to come out and see old friends they may not have seen for a while and for kids to enjoy the activities,” said Claudia Fleckenstein, who chairs the event. “That’s why we do it. It’s a kick-off to the holidays.

“And, it’s all about the wreaths,” she added. “We started the wreath contest last year and got some really creative entries. We provide the wreaths for people to decorate. We have about 25 to give away and anyone from the community can pick one up at Porter Bottle Return (3628 Ransomville Road) during regular business hours. If we run out of wreaths to give away, people may decorate their own wreaths for the contest.

“Festival committee members also will drop wreaths off at businesses that want to participate,” she added. “And everyone will drop off their decorated wreaths between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 26 at the American Legion Post 830 (2589 Youngstown-Lockport Road), to be displayed on its walls for the contest.”

The community votes on the wreaths from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, with the winners announced at closing ceremonies at 4:45 p.m.

This year’s festivities kick off with a new attraction -- the appearance of children’s author Cynthia Cotten of Lockport from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 26 at the Ransomville Free Library, 3733 Ransomville Road. An author of poetry and fiction for children for three decades, Cotten will read from her works and discuss the writing process with her audience. Each child will receive a book signed by Cotten.

“She writes with so much quality,” said Ruth Anne Buzzard, who organized the book event. “You just fall in love with her books.”

A Family Scavenger Hunt is planned for 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 26, rounding out the day’s activities. All teams, with a maximum of five members, will meet at Johnston’s Restaurant, 2575 Academy St., where the contest begins and ends. Pre-registration is suggested and forms are available at Patti’s Cut Above during business hours through Wednesday. Each team must have a driver age 21 or older. Prizes will be awarded at 7 p.m.

“Last year, people had to find things like a pink foam hair roller and an 8-track tape, for example,” Fleckenstein recalled. “The committee tries to be fun and creative.”

Sunday, Nov. 27 schedule

The festival resumes at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 27 with a community church service in the activities room of the Ransomville Manor, 3509 Ransomville Road.

A handful of local businesses will hold an open house from 12:30 to 3 p.m. and a free shuttle bus will operate continuously from 12:30 to 5 p.m.

A basket raffle planned for 12:30 to 3 p.m. Nov. 27 at the Ransomville Baptist Church, 2578 Youngstown-Lockport Road, is the only festival activity that isn’t free, and all proceeds benefit the Ransomville Ambulance Fund and Care-N-Share Food Pantry, according to Fleckenstein.

The Ransomville Fire Hall, 2521 Youngstown-Lockport Road, will host children’s activities from 12:30 to 3 p.m., including photos with Santa; horse-drawn wagon rides; and wood carver, ambulance and fire truck demonstrations. In addition, a magic show will be presented from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m.

The Ransomville Free Library also will host children’s activities from 1 to 3 p.m., including a petting zoo in the library yard.

Buzzard is also organizing a new flag parade, featuring area churches, businesses, and local children, at 3 p.m. Participants will march from the library to Hardison Funeral Home.

The festival’s closing ceremony will be held from 4:45 to 5:15 pm. at the Ransomville Baptist Church and will include a concert by the Wilson High School Chorale, the lighting of the Memorial Wreath, and announcement of wreath contest winners and the wood carving and basket raffles.

Library representatives will have the honor of lighting the memorial wreath’s electric candle this year, said Fleckenstein.

The festival of wreaths originated more than 30 years ago, but was not held for a number of years due to dwindling interest. A group from the Fillmore Chapel resurrected it five years ago.

“We chose the Ransomville Free Library to light the memorial wreath this year because even during the years that the festival was not held, the library continued to hold children’s activities this weekend and we wanted to honor them for doing this,” Fleckenstein said.

She added that participants may pick up their decorated wreaths at the American Legion following the closing ceremonies. Those not picked up will be donated to the Ransomville Manor.

Fleckenstein added that the committee is always looking for new members “to help plan for next year, which is the 200th anniversary of the founding of Ransomville.”

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