KENSINGTON — Donna Carter, a member of Kensington's Recreation and Social Committee, doesn't worry about getting volunteers for the town's Old Home Day celebration.
While few people contact her in advance, attendees at the annual event are eager to help once they get there.
"They come up and ask me what they should do," the long-time Rec volunteer said.
Kensington will hold its 2019 Old Home Day on Saturday and Sunday. For Carter and the rest of the town, it's a chance to connect at mid-summer and enjoy each other's company.
Nearly every segment of town life is involved, according to Carter and fellow Rec member Elaine Bodwell. Before the festivities at Sawyer Park, the town's two historic churches, the Congregational Church and Universalist Church, will hold open houses from 2 to 4 p.m. It's a chance for residents to check out the classic architecture on these buildings, according to Bodwell.
The Sawyer Park events begin at 4 p.m. with yard games including cornhole, children's games, children's crafts sponsored by the Kensington Library, and a DJ. A barbecue will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Carter said the town will provide hamburgers and hot dogs, the Sawyer-Kensington Park Trust will provide ribs and salad from the Farm at Eastman's Corner, and the Fire Department and Rescue Squad will do the cooking. Community members are welcome to bring side dishes and desserts to share, she said.
Carter runs the pie-eating contest and said she's learned by doing. She no longer puts out larger pies, "because after they ate them, the people looked sick." She will provide middle-sized pies for older children and tiny one-serving pies for the little ones. The participants, mostly children, are tasked with eating a pie without using their hands.
"We tried watermelon one year, but as they bit into it their noses bled from the rubbing," she said.
She gives a small cash prize for whoever finishes their pie first. One year she offered a festival T-shirt, but that didn't go over well. "They wanted the cash," Carter said.
The DJ will play for dancing into the night, Bodwell said, until it's time for the fireworks. Fireworks go off at approximately 9 p.m., and Bodwell has advice for viewers: "Lawn chairs, blankets and bug spray!"
The food, games, crafts and entertainment are all free, according to Carter. She remembers taking her own children to local fairs when they were small. "Everything was, 'Mom, I need a dollar for this, I need a dollar for that,'" she recalled. "But this is no cost." The Fire Department will have its "boot" out for contributions and the Police Department will hold a raffle, but these are optional for attendees, she pointed out, and the proceeds go to charity.
The fun continues Sunday morning with the traditional pancake breakfast provided by the Russell Perry family. It's also free and a chance to reflect on the weekend, according to the two committee members.
Bodwell, who has volunteered for the event for several years, isn't sure what's her favorite part. "I'm always working," she pointed out. But when the logistics are done, the trash cleaned up and the clipboard put away, she said she enjoys sitting in the pavilion and chatting with her fellow townspeople. "I love watching the kids play," she said, "and the fireworks display is wonderful."
For Carter, the high point of the event is the people who show up, and help without being asked. "This is the most awesome town," she said. "The people in it are fantastic."
Events take place Saturday at Sawyer Park, Trundle Bed Lane, in Kensington. The Pancake Breakfast is Sunday from 8 to 10 a.m. in Sawyer Park.