ATHOL-A good crowd got a good taste of Thurman community spirit Saturday, March 12 as folks from near and far gathered for the annual Jack Wax Party benefit event.
About 200 people shared the buffet dinner that featured dozens of savory home-cooked dishes that local cooks donated to the event.
The Jack Wax event, an annual celebration of spring's arrival, is held to benefit the American Cancer Society's local charitable works. The event follows an age-old tradition of serving boiled-down maple syrup ladled on fresh snow, which gives the fresh maple confection a taffy-like consistency.
Event organizer Becky Hitchcock said that this year's Jack Wax event drew a robust crowd and measured up with other recent years' editions. Hitchcock has been working near full time on the event in the last few weeks, assisted by more than a dozen local people. Norma Galusha and Myrna Keeler assisted with a lot of organizational details.
Hitchcock expressed thanks to the dozens of local cooks who prepared their signature dishes.
Whether it was Myrna Keeler's Sweet Potato Pie or Cindi Muratori's Baked Ziti, or the baked ham, roast turkey, or any one of the specialty dishes, folks from all over appeared to enjoy every bite.
While Keith Keeler sold tickets at the door, Paula Hubert directed people to the open seats in the town hall's assembly room.
Craig Baker cooked the syrup down to the sticky consistency and ladled the heavy, fragrant syrup out on snow scooped up by George Chonko.
About a dozen teenaged Warren County Youth Court participants set up tables, served dishes of jack wax and beverages, cleared tables then re-set them with efficiency. Later, they diligently cleared up the aftermath and washed dishes, Hitchcock said.
"The Youth Court teens were very, very helpful and hard workers," she said.
She added that the group has now been invited back to Thurman to help conduct the upcoming town Easter party.
Entertainment was provided throughout dinner and afterwards by Hoddy Ovitt and the Warren County Ramblers band. Hitchcock said people came from not only neighboring towns but from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Texas. She said an older man from Connecticut told her that as long as he's able to convince someone to drive him up to Thurman to attend the traditional March event, he'll be attending.
"That says a lot when a man loves our Jack Wax Party that much - it says a lot for all the people who worked so hard on this," she said.
Contributing maple syrup were Mike Hill and his associate Ralph at Valley Maple Farm; Randy, Jill, Jim and Norma Galusha of Toad Hill Maple Farm; Stewart and Doris Baker and Yves Fontaine of Partridge Mountain Maple Syrup; as well as Rexford Reynolds Sr. and George Chonko.