Remembering Hopewell Community Day, 1974 – 1985

Community Day 1981 Program [Bob Witkowski]

For a look back to the Hopewell area in the 1970s and 1980s, we can explore Hopewell Community Day – a very full day of community fun and activities that was the predecessor to the current Hopewell Harvest Fair.

Over the years, Community Day developed into a fundraiser for the many local volunteer and non-profit organizations in Hopewell.

HFD Ambulance Corps, c1960 – Joe Vaccarino 2nd from left and Barry Davidson right [Joe Vaccarino]

Community Day was held from 1974 to 1985, in the area around Princeton Bank (now PNC Bank) near the end of East Broad Street (before the shopping mall was added). It was originated by Joe Vaccarino and Barry Davidson to “help bring the community together.” They were members of the Hopewell Fire Department Ambulance Corps, and the Fire Department then stepped up to help launch the event. Community Day later was run by the Jaycees, and then by the Hopewell Business Associates.

We only have a couple of Community Day pamphlets to go with our collection of Harvest Fair almanacs, but we can reconstruct the Community Day story from newspaper reports and from oral history.

== View the full Harvest Fair / Community Day album in the Image Gallery ==

Harvest Fair 2023 Overlook

Please contact us if you have photos, videos, pamphlets, t-shirts or other materials from the Hopewell Harvest Fair and earlier Community Day that we can share.

Community Day Activities

The second Community Day in 1975 began at 9 am, and ran into the evening to end with live music and a fireworks show. Activities included an art show, Jaycee flea market, pet parade, Woman’s club trash and treasure booth, amusement rides, a magic show, and fire department demonstrations. Community exhibitors included the Hopewell Fire Department’s emergency medical unit, the Hopewell Board of Health, and the American Heart Association with a film on breast examinations. Food booths included the Hopewell Presbyterian Church chicken barbecue, which was a fixture for many years (cooking 225 whole chickens in 1981).

Fire Department demonstrations were a major fixture of Community Day events through the years, and were held along Lafayette Street. In 1981, the Hopewell Volunteer Fire Company and Montgomery competed in the bucket run – racing up and down a 50-foot track with water buckets to be first to fill a 50-gallon trough. The “tug-of-war” had firefighters aiming their water hoses to push a hanging bucket along a rope. And in 1985, firefighters from Hopewell, Pennington, Titusville, and Montgomery ran through a series of fire drills.

Community Day 1981 Fire Department Competition
Community Day 1981 Fire Department Bucket Race [Roger Labaw]
Community Day 1981 Bake Sale [Labaw]

In 1980, the event began at 9 am, with live bluegrass and folk music performances, and ended at 11 pm with all time dance favorites and 60’s music. Activities included a hay ride around the grounds, hot air balloon ride, farm animal zoo, art show, Chinese auction, flea market, craft exhibitions, baking contest, and exhibit of antique engines.

Food options featured sausage and peppers to barbecued chicken. There also were old fashioned games like the firemen’s tug of war, slippery pole scaling, and the sock and three legged races.

The Hopewell Challenge run started in 1980, and continued at least through 1996. It included both a 10K (6.2 mile) road race with prizes, plus a two-mile fun run. By 1983, the race was expected to have more than 500 participants.

The First Community Day T-Shirt, 1981 [Dixon]

The 1981 event celebrated Hopewell’s 90th birthday, 1891 – 1981 with a commemorative t-shirt, and added a Boro walking tour, plus exhibits at the Hopewell Museum including an art show and black kettle cooking. The Blawenburg Marching Band also provided day-long music.

The Tomato Factory Antique Center offered exhibits and appraisals, with free verbal identification of antiques in 1981 (limit two to person), and appraisals of antique post cards in 1982, plus exhibits and demonstrations of doll making and repair, chair caning, and pottery making.

The Wooden Car Derby started by at least 1983 and ran until 1999. The cars were made from the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby Kit, were 7 inches long, could weigh a maximum of five ounces, and were powered only by gravity. Prizes were awarded for the fastest, slowest and best looking cars, with separate categories for kids with and without adult help.

Wooden Car Derby – Community Day 1983 [Roger Labaw]

The 1985 event featured Smokey the Bear arriving on the Hopewell Fire Truck, plus children’s dog and obedience demo, Wooden Car Derby, chiropractic demonstration, talent show, local hypnotist, and break dancers and clogging.

Children’s activities included an obstacle course, train rides through town, puppet and magic shows, clown performances, and fingerpainting by the Boy Scouts. The event still ran from 9 am to 11 pm, with fireworks at 9 pm.

The Game of Hopewell, 1985 [Bob Lawless}

The Game of Hopewell was featured for the apparently final 1985 event. It was a board game version of Monopoly featuring local institutions and businesses on the spaces around the edge of the board. The Hopewell Business Associates made 500 copies, and hoped to net $3500 from the project.

The newspaper also detailed the Community Day finances as a fundraiser for local non-profits. The money was raised from the exhibiting organizations, who gave about 25 percent of their net profit back to Community Day. The organizers hoped to net $6000 in 1985, around $1000 more than the previous year.

Community Day and Harvest Fair Almanacs

Hopewell Harvest Fair and Community Day Almanacs

We have an almost complete collection of Harvest Fair Almanacs from 1987 up to 2023, plus a couple pamphlets from Community Day in the 1980s. The fun and varied covers often featured designs by local artists.

Explore these in the Pamphlets Collection. All the documents are digitized and searchable – with 36 pamphlets with over 2300 scanned pages.

== View the Harvest Fair & Community Day Almanacs in the Pamphlet Collection ==

Please contact us if you have additional Harvest Fair / Community Day photos, videos, pamphlets, t-shirts or other materials that we can share.

  • We are missing the 2003 Harvest Fair Almanac – Does anyone have a copy?
  • Does anyone have Community Day information or pamphlets (we have 1981 and 1983)?
  • Does anyone have Community Day / Harvest Fair t-shirts – or photos of them?

More on Town Events

See also Memorial Day

Hopewell – Harvest Fair, Community Day, Fire Dept. and Legion Carnivals

Pennington – Pennington Day

Titusville – Fourth of July

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