After 119 years, the Western Old Settlers Picnic is still going strong, and the reception of the annual event indicates that it is not stopping.
This celebration, Damara Woitalewicz, Western Community Club President, explained, had its origins in the strong sense of community found in the village. She believes hat willingness to work together is what makes the celebration thrive.
“What makes the Picnic success?” asked Woitalewicz. “The people do! We are lucky to have people who have a heart for Western and for the Western Old Settlers Picnic, for serving others, and for having fun. There is a core group of individuals that make up the Western Community Club but it is the whole community that volunteers for the picnic and supports the Club’s fundraisers to keep the picnic going.”
Woitalewicz believes that the community has a strong influence on the survival of the event.
“It’s a tradition that the community thinks is important, and wants to keep it alive,” Woitalewicz said. “We’ve done it for so long, so everybody knows what we do, and it gets done. It’s pretty much like clockwork. Most of the Community Club has been doing it for at least 20 years.”
The car show, the parade and the sand volleyball tournament have been key events during the Old Settlers Picnic for many years. However, over the past few years, more events have been added to the schedule, such as the fun run/walk, the tractor show and the craft show.
Even though the celebration takes place during many other events, such as the Jefferson County Fair, Woitalewicz believes the turnout has been strong. However, she recognizes that some more volunteers will be needed in the future to help the Picnic to stay successful.
The community of Western will continue this annual tradition, as well as some of its others, such as its trunk-or-treat event before Halloween. Woitalewicz hope to continue to spread the word about the community and let people know that it is thriving.
“I’d like to continue to promote Western in general,” Woitalewicz said. “Western is alive and kicking. We’re still here. I cannot speak for others but I know that I like being a part of something bigger than myself and I truly believe that the only thing that limits us is our mind. America was built on dreams and hard work, the willingness to try even if the end result was not what was expected. It is good to have a purpose and what a blessing to be able to enjoy working for that purpose. I am glad that people felt that way 119 years ago when the picnic started and I am glad that people still feel that way today.”
Michelle Schultz, who ran the car show submitted photos of the winning cars:
Tim Snell won the award for best motor with his 1967 Chevy Nova
Dan Stanton won the award for best paint with his 1939 Ford Convertible
Steve Breazeale won best of show, modified with his 1937 Chevy Sedan