Keeping the Harrisburg tradition alive


By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

For three days in the summer, the village of Harrisburg is transformed into a wonderland of rides, games, attractions and all sorts of events for anyone who is looking to have a good time.

At any given hour, attendees of the annual homecoming weekend can find something cool to see or something fun to do. On the first day, they can revel in great food and company, enter into a contest or have a refreshing beverage at the local VFW. On the second day, they can dress up their pets so people can marvel at how cute they are, interact with SWAT team members, look inside a MedFlight helicopter and enjoy live entertainment later in the night. On the third day, they can watch a parade, try their luck at a gaming station or place a bid on those fabulous looking and smelling cakes, cookies and pies.

This is an event that has been a staple in the community since they began to welcome home veterans of World War I and it is something that every resident, no matter how long they have or have not lived there, takes pride in.

“It is our tradition,” said Sarah Keathley.

When Keathley and her family relocated to the village three years ago, she had no idea how attached she would become to the community or this event in particular. But when she first started to attend community meetings to stay current on local happenings, she took a special interest in the Harrisburg Homecoming committee. By this time, she was already a fan of the celebration – it was the only time she and her daughters were allowed to “girlify” her father’s Silverado so they could take part in the parade – but she really liked knowing what went into putting on this beloved event and what ideas the committee had to make the event better. At a recent meeting, however, she learned some distressing news.

“It has run into some financial trouble,” she said.

According to Michael Lytle, the president of the village of Harrisburg council, it costs roughly $8,000 to organize the homecoming and most of those funds are spent on insurance to bring the rides for children.

Not wanting to slash amusement rides out of the budget, the committee brainstormed ways to raise funds. Keathley suggested reaching out to the community via social media and raising funds that way.

She said they all feel a little strange asking for money from the public, but she has hope that the community will be able to come through.

“If we don’t start getting the news out (about the financial troubles of the homecoming) we may not be able to do it anymore,” Keathley said.

She added that this event means too much to the community to let it slip away.

“We don’t want our legend to die.”

Lytle agreed and said this event was something to be cherished.

“It is our way of welcoming people into our humble little village, our quaint little place where neighbors know and care for each other,” he said.

He said that even if they were unable to raise enough money for the children’s rides, they would try to have the homecoming regardless in the future, no matter the financial

“It’s all about the kids and their smiles and the adults being with their families,” Lytle said.

If you wish to help fund current and future attractions at the Harrisburg Homecoming, you can donate at the GoFundMe page Keathley established. The web address is Lytle said donations could also be sent to the Harrisburg Library, located at 1036 High Street Harrisburg, Ohio 43126.

This year’s homecoming is July 9, 10 and 11, with the opening ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. on July 9.

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