Kathy Templeton serving up some home-cooked food for Harley Fisk (left) and Hailey Sweet at Thurman’s Jack Wax Party held Saturday March 9. Kathy and her husband Andy organized the party this year — carrying on a beloved local tradition that’s endured since the 1930s. The annual event raises money for the American Cancer Society.
Following a day of giving folks sleigh rides at his ranch, Chris Boggia of Chestertown stepped inside the Thurman Town Hall Saturday to join the annual Jack Wax Party.
Boggia tilted up his cowboy hat and listened to Hoddy Ovitt and band performing their mountain music for a capacity crowd.
“I love this,” he said, pulling a bandanna from around his neck. “I come here every year — the food is great, the music is super and it’s so friendly — this is like a community gathering should be.”
Marge Swan stood in line waiting to get to the long serving counter, where volunteers were dishing up plates of food.
“I’ve been attending since the 1950s,” she said. “It’s quite a mob here — it’s wonderful how many people turn out, with all the money going towards a cure for cancer — I’ve been through that.”
About 200 people enjoyed friendly conversation, hearty home-cooked food and country music at the party that’s heralded springtime in Thurman for at least 75 years.
Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood, who along with Paula Hubert was shepherding people to seats as others exited, said she recalled attending the Jack Wax party as a little girl — working at the fest as a teen for long-time Jack Wax organizer Jean Reynolds.
“This is the high point of March for me,” she said. “It’s a big Thurman tradition.”
Jean Reynolds’ widower, Rex Reynolds Jr., sat watching his great-grandson Rex the Fifth experience his first taste ever of Jack Wax, fed to him by Rex IV.
The elder Rex recalled how as a boy in the 1930s, he attended the Jack Wax Party at the old Methodist church, which until recent decades stood down the road a bit from the town hall.
“I love seeing this party continue through the years like it has,” he said. “There’s no place I know of that puts on a party like this.”
His son agreed. “It brings the community together,” he said. “The volunteers work hard to carry on this great tradition.”
One of those volunteers was Town Clerk Cynthia Hyde, who was at the sink washing a large roasting pan. She praised Kathy and Andy Templeton for their work organizing the party.
“For weeks and weeks, they were in and out of the town hall,” she said. “They put a lot of time, effort and thought into this.”
George Chonko and Aiden Templeton were nearby, shaving ice for the dessert of Jack Wax. Tina Parker was standing at the cookstove, stirring up the bubbling maple syrup to be ladled over the ice shavings for servings of the taffy-like traditional treat.
“Jean Reynolds taught me how to do this,” Parker said. “It’s for a good cause — both my parents had cancer and my brother is battling it now.”
Serving up portions of food were Kaitlyn and Chelsea Witz, Emma Feiden, Shirley Wendling, Kristen Constantineau and Martha Terrell — while Kelsey Winter and Melissa Bergman of the Warren County Youth Court were pouring beverages. Susan Jennings and “Tuck” Birdsall were dispensing tickets and Nancy Decker was nearby selling raffle chances
“This is a hometown celebration,” Terrell said, dancing in place in the serving line. “We’re having fun while we’re raising money for a good cause.”
Paula Hubert agreed with her.
“People from all over love coming up to Thurman to have a great meal and help the cause,” she said.
Among those traveling to Thurman were Pat Lange and Bob Weir of Queensbury. They attended Thurman’s Maple Days fest on Saturday, tasting gourmet goat cheese at Nettle Meadows Farm, seeing how maple syrup is made at Adirondack Gold Maple Farm and topping off the day at the Jack Wax Party.
“We read about this on the Internet, and now we’re here having a grand time,” she said with a broad smile.