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Emmitsburg Community Show celebrates
 50 years

Ingrid Mezo

((/7) The Emmitsburg Community Show starts Friday for its 50th time around the block in Thurmont.

The show has grown exponentially since it began in Emmitsburg in 1952, some of the original participants said.

Bob Valentine was the original master of ceremonies for the Emmitsburg Community Show, and has been the chairman of the beef, sheep, and swine show since its inception 32 years ago, he said.

‘‘I came in about two years after it started, after the original show started. Let’s see, it was the school year of [1959 and 1960]. I was under Mr. Baker," Valentine said.

Bill Baker was the original sponsor of the show in Emmitsburg, but moved to Thurmont in the 1957 and started to do the show there.

Once Baker brought up the idea for Thurmont, Rodman Myers co-sponsored the event with him, and he has been chairing it there every year since.

Valentine was a sophomore in high school when he was asked to act as master of ceremonies for the show.

‘‘I done a good bit of talking in class, and [Baker] said I have just the job for you, and I MC’d the program for that year," Valentine said. ‘‘I won the county public speaking contest, but it’s been a long time ago, a long time ago."

Valentine was also a member of the FFA and 4H, had dairy cattle, and was the first person to exhibit livestock at the community show, in the 1959 and 1960 school year, he said.

That year, Valentine started at tradition. ‘‘We’ve had livestock at the Community Show ever since," he said.

Jane Nolan (formerly Bollinger) will be honored this year at the Emmitsburg Community Show during the 50th anniversary of the show in Thurmont as chapter sweetheart for the show.

Like the show itself, Nolan moved from Emmitsburg to Thurmont. She was the second person ever honored as chapter sweetheart when the title started being awarded in Emmitsburg. The first is no longer in town.

‘‘It’s funny, the first girl was Thelma Bollinger, we’re cousins, really," Nolan said. ‘‘I haven’t seen her since graduation."

Nolan said she felt uncomfortable in the spotlight, and wanted to ensure that all chapter sweethearts received equal recognition. She and her husband moved to Thurmont in the late 1960s, she said, and were both school teachers in Frederick County Public Schools. Nolan taught fourth and fifth grade at Thurmont Elementary, she said. Now, she’s working on her ninth year of retirement.

Being nominated chapter sweetheart, Nolan said, was flattering.

‘‘When it first started, the ag boys nominated girls in the school to be chapter sweethearts, and then it was a secret ballot and they voted," she said. ‘‘...I don’t know [why I was nominated.] I felt very surprised. At that time, it was an honor because you’re in a small school and you’re being nominated by your male peers. There were no girls in agriculture at that time."

Becky Myers (now Linton) was the first Thurmont chapter sweetheart to be honored 50 years ago, when the show started at Thurmont High School, now Thurmont Middle. Now students from Emmitsburg and Thurmont both go to Catoctin High in Thurmont. This year, all chapter sweethearts will be honored during the 50-year anniversary.

‘‘Well it was quite a surprise and an honor, and it’s nice to be remembered 50 years later about it," Linton said. ‘‘My sister was one also, and I have a niece that was one, and it could be wonderful getting back together 50 years later and seeing everybody. And it’s great that this has been able to go on so long, because a lot of things just kind of disappear. And it’s really good for the community of Thurmont and Emmitsburg."

Both Valentine and Nolan said the show has grown tremendously since they had starring rolls in it so many years ago.

‘‘Oh my, it’s just grew leaps and bounds," Valentine said. ‘‘When we started, we had the Community Show at Thurmont High School, which is now Thurmont Middle. We had the whole show in the ag shop area, which consisted of square feet wise, probably 3-5000 square feet. Now we take up probably all of Catoctin High School."

The expansion of the show to its current size, he said, is a good thing.

‘‘Last year we had over 2,500 total entries," he said.

Nolan noted that the show used to be held during the daytime, and not at night time, she supposed, because people had livestock to take care of and other farm work to do in the evening.

Almost everything back then was held during the afternoon hours, she said, including sports events.

Also, Nolan said in the original days of the show, most people entered food items, or things they had sewed.

‘‘It’s much bigger than it used to be," she said. ‘‘At the time, it was a big thing. When it began, there was nothing like it [elsewhere in Frederick County]. A lot of people would enter things at the community show, and then would enter it the next week at the [Great] Frederick Fair."

Nolan entered craft and sewing items when the show began, because she was a member of the 4H group, she said. She did not enter livestock, because her family lived in town. Her father was a butcher, she said. ‘‘They sold him the animals," Nolan added. ‘‘...Well, I really cherish a hot dog. That’s just not something we ate as kids, because everything else was so available."

Filet mignon, for example, is just not as big of a treat to her as it is to some people, she said.

Now, Nolan no longer enters crafts in the shows, but goes almost every year to see her grandchildren play football or cheer.

She still has her blue nylon jacket embroidered with her name and ‘‘Emmitsburg Chapter" that she received when she was honored as chapter sweetheart so many years ago. She also has the heart necklace she was given, but no longer wears it, she said.

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