HERMITAGE – Wyatt Canon is helping to breathe new life in New Virginia Old Home Day.
“This has to be one of the oldest events in Hermitage,’’ Canon said.
Started in 1913, this home-spun event is celebrating its 106th anniversary on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at its grounds on Old Virginia Road.
Over the years the event has gotten stale, Canon acknowledged.
In its heyday the organization was able to pay for celebrities to attend the shindig such as TV and movie actor Robert Conrad, best know for his roles in “The Wild Wild West’’ and “Baa Baa Black Sheep’’ TV shows. The group doesn’t have that kind of money now, Canon said.
“We used to have it over four days,’’ he said of Old Home Day. “But over the years, things got cut back and it was whittled down to just one day. We want to build it up so we can have it for three or four days again.’’
This event was initially hosted by members of the New Virginia United Methodist Church on church property in Hermitage, which back then was New Virginia Village within Hickory Township, Canon said.
At some point a separate organization, the non-profit New Virginia Old Home Day Association, was formed to hold and oversee the event. Around 1953, the group bought property on Virginia Road in Hermitage where the event has been held since.
Over the years, the organization improved the property by constructing a building which has a kitchen and indoor seating area. A shelter also was constructed where people can sit outdoors on picnic tables.
“I helped to put all of these trusses together when I was a child,’’ Wyatt’s father, Harry Canon, said as he pointed to the shelter’s ceiling.
There was another upgrade he added. Tucked inside the kitchen is a french fry slicer he created so that fresh cut french fries can be offered.
“These are great french fries,’’ he said.
Food will be sold at the event, including traditional carnival items such as hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, soft pretzels – and of course fresh cut fries. Spit-roasted meats also will be offered.
Canon said he took a lead role in the group because he didn’t want Old Home Day to fold.
“When I heard how much money it was losing every year I had to get involved,’’ he said. “I use to come here when I was a kid. We had some real great times here.’’
A major chore for Canon was cleaning up the property.
“I’ve been here every day this summer painting and fixing things,’’ he said.
Old Home Day also will have a car show and corn hole tournament for $10 a team, which has a payout for the winner.
There is no charge to get on the grounds, but there’s a $5 all-day fee for children to use an inflatable bouncy house and slide. But a pet bike and pet parade are free. A silent auction will be held and live music will be offered starting at 1:30.
All proceeds will benefit the upkeep and improvements at the grounds.
“I want to keep this going,’’ Canon said of the event.
The site is located at 5360 New Virginia Road, next to the Hermitage Street Department Garage. The event runs from 10 a.m to 6 p.m.