Special to The Journal
BERKELEY SPRINGS– On Sunday afternoon, the recent rain was gone, and a crisp fall feeling was in the air as folks crowded around the Cacapon Resort State Park gazebo for entertainment, door prizes and bids on items in a silent auction. They brought lawn chairs, four-legged friends, their bikes and kids to sit under the tall oak trees and listen to folk and bluegrass music and enjoy seeing old friends or making new ones.
Homecoming started around 1995, and the motto has always been “Come Home to Cacapon. You’re your park.”
Park Superintendent Scott Fortney hosted an art and photography contest, and said he was glad the weather was better than the day before.
“The rain stopped,” Fortney said. “Yesterday, it was cool, rainy and foggy. I was surprised how much fog came down off the mountain.”
Picnickers gathered around the gazebo in the center of the park to hear free entertainment. People came with picnic baskets in hand or sampled food sold by the Boys and Girls Club.
Jim Barrow and family and friends came from Berkeley County. They brought plenty of food and lounge chairs to enjoy the day under the trees.
Barrow said, “My wife and I come up here a lot. I have a classic car we bring to the lodge.”
Sherry Custer and her husband were part of the group. She was glad to receive a Cacapon T-shirt in the door prize drawing and showed it to her husband and the Barrows.
Retired DJ Virgil Ruppenthal and wife Betty come every year.
“This is the coolest Homecoming I can remember,” said Betty. “We like to come out and enjoy the afternoon and music.”
Entertainment included Kate Evans, Bob Williams, Rich Ellis & Friends, All Grassed Up and Adam Keeling.
Judge Glen Stotler again handled the post of Master of Ceremonies. Retired park superintendent Tom Ambrose made his annual presentation to former members of the Civilian Conservation Corps who helped build the park, including its gazebo, nature center, playground and picnic tables.
While some state parks like Canaan and Stonewall Jackson are run privately and charge entrance fees, Cacapon does not. The Cacapon Resort State Park Foundation was formed in 1989 and helps with fundraising events like the Homecoming.
Bruce Goldstein has a vacation home and spends weekends in Berkeley Springs. He was out riding his bike earlier in the day and stopped for something to eat and to listen to the music. He’s part of a group of part-time and full-time residents who volunteer their time helping out in various ways around the park.
“We come to most of the special events here and at downtown Berkeley Springs,” Goldstein said. “I really enjoy events at Cacapon State Park and bicycling around the hills around here. It’s great exercise and great to be outdoors.”
There is a strong connection between park officials, the Foundation and local volunteers or those who just come out to donate to the park’s upkeep. Local businesses and citizens donate items for the silent auction. This year’s items ranged from handmade woodworking items like a dollhouse sized model of the nature center, fitness center gift certificate, artwork, tools, and other items.
A 50/50 drawing collected a little over $ 600. The lucky recipient of the drawn ticket went home with their half of $ 305.00.