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Posted: 10/09/13

Merchants ready to treat visitors to
a day of free fun during Harvest Day

Observer Managing Editor

      The colorful autumn season complete with its sights, smells and tastes, the charm of an historic town and dozens of free events provided by Romeo area merchants will intersect Oct. 12 during the sixth annual Harvest Day celebration.
       The day, that runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will be filled with free food and free fun events for children and families. Various non-profit organizations will benefit from raffles and fundraising events throughout the day.
       The day is put on by the Romeo Merchants, Restaurants and Professionals (MRP) association who sought out sponsors to pay for the many events happening so visitors could enjoy themselves free of charge.
       "It's not a sales event, I mean if we benefit commercially as a business, that's great; that's not the purpose," said Carol Humphries, chair of the event and MRP president. "The purpose is to say `thanks customers, thanks for keeping me around. I'm going to give back a little bit to you. Enjoy yourself and think of me.' That's been its purpose since day one."
       Free events throughout the day include: Scarecrow building, face painting and balloon animals, pumpkin bowling and kids games, pie eating contest and seed spitting contest, folk and bluegrass music on Main Street, historical haunted trolley tours and movie and cartoon viewing. There will also be free cider and donuts.
       A charity raffle for eight bicycles and four skateboards will take place throughout the day. Each ticket is $1. Money raised from the raffle will benefit the Romeo District Schools Homeless Childrens Fund.
       A Fantasy Forest is also planned as a fundraiser. Little Learners Childcare Center and Romeo Kiwanis have teamed up to collect money for the Romeo Kids Foundation in its quest to build a splash park in the Bruce Township Park.
       The trick or treat event will be set up along the trail behind Little Learners and the fire department on Gates Street. Stations will be set up by businesses and organizations who have paid an amount and taken out advertising in a booklet. Proceeds will be given to the kids foundation.
       "We are hoping for 20 stations and we're trying to get a photo booth in there too, and a hay maze," said Sandy Calcagno of Little Learners.
       Children will be charged $3.50 the day of the event to visit the stations and $3 if purchased earlier. Calcagno said the child care center participated in an event like this in Lapeer.
       "It was successful up there, they had more than 1,000 kids. We're hoping for 100 to 200 kids," she said.
       Another fundraiser will be the Chili Cook Off, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Greater Romeo-Washington Chamber of Commerce at 228 N. Main St. Beer will also be available to go along with the chili tasting. Chili tasting will be in the barn behind the Douglas House.
       A $20 fee will be charged to enter a chili recipe and the public can buy tickets to the tasting for $10. Deadline to submit a chili recipe is Oct. 10.
       The chamber will also be raffling off four prizes<a Ruger 10/22 gun, a Mossburg 500 12 gauge gun, a Gander Mountain $250 gift card and a Shooters Emporium $100 gift card. Tickets for the raffle cost $10.
       A $100 Visa gift card will go to the first place winner of the chili contest and a $50 card to second place.
       Money raised during the event will help pay for a couple of the bikes to be raffled off and to support chamber activities.
       All free events will take place along Main Street and at the Village Park.
       The popular scarecrow building event will take place at Connelly's Creations. Hay has been donated by Van's Valley and sticks have been donated by Home Depot and people in the community. Everything to build the scarecrow is free, including the clothing (those wishing to build multiple scarecrows are encouraged to bring additional toddler clothes).
       "I find most of the time the kids are playing in the straw and the adults are building the scarecrows," said Connie Connelly, owner of Connelly's Creations and MRP board member.
       Face painting will be done by a group of painters called An Affair to Remember. The professional face painters will do various types of artwork on children for free.
       Balloonist Big Don, who has been to the event before, makes balloon animals and wrist flowers for free.
       Pumpkin bowling will be put on by R-W-B Parks & Recreation with help from Little Learners in the Village Park from noon to 2 p.m. Every child that participates gets a coupon for a free Dairy Queen cone.
       Historic haunted trolley tours will go on throughout the day giving visitors a chance "to hear our silly jokes and history."
       "This year we will be giving a little bit of haunted history," said JoAnn Urban, MRP board member. "Of course it won't all exactly be true, but it's up to you to see for yourself."
       "We'll go up and down the side streets, point out historic homes and make up some `urban legends,'" added Humphries.
       Movie and cartoon viewing will be at the River of God church. Light refreshments will be served.
       The pie eating and seed spitting contests will be in the driveway area in front of First Merit Bank around 2 p.m. There will also be a donut on a string contest. Cub Scout Troop 287 will host the events as it did last year.
       Following the contests, Walt Zatorski will do square dance calling and dancers from The Dance Studio will help people learn how to square dance.
       From 2-4 p.m. in the front patio area of Younger's Irish Tavern there will be folk and bluegrass music. A three piece band called Behind the Times will perform.
       Fall produce will be set up at Taylor Alley on the northeast corner of 32 Mile Road and Van Dyke and craft booths will be set up along Main Street.
       A rummage sale and bake sale will be at the First Congregational Church on Church Street.
       The MRP has also got the event covered in case of inclement weather thanks to Romeo Rent-All who will be providing tents for various areas along Main Street, such as the scarecrow building.
       "It's fall so you never know what is going to happen," said Humphries. "But we're praying for days like today (Sept. 24, sunny and in the high 60s). And we have had it like this before. In fact, we've had it when it was 80 degrees and we wished it was a little cooler."

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