I tuned in almost every night to marvel at feats of athletic prowess. And, when the summer games ended, I went through withdrawal. Little did I know, the Olympics continued at a York County bar.
On Sept. 4, I took a drive down to The Valley Tavern in Seven Valleys. I was waylaid by a tricky detour - bridge construction blocked the main route to the bar. It's an obstacle that owners Terry and Meg Fullerton worry will hurt business. So they've used creative promotions to keep the barroom crowded.
That Tuesday night, dozens of folks stopped in for food, drinks and another round of Bar Olympics. The competition began with corn hole Aug. 21 and continued with darts Sept. 4.
I'm pretty sure the last time I played darts at a York bar, I hit the brick wall more than the board. So, I regarded everyone who managed to score in the triple digits as an elite competitor.
Liz Walker helped set up the tournament bracket. As a Brewery Products Co. sales rep, she spends most days analyzing data from York, Adams, Franklin and Fulton counties. Nights are more fun, she said, since she often visits area bars for promotions.
She's made great friends at The Valley Tavern.
"(Meg) is really into getting people up and moving and having some fun," Walker said. "Everyone knows everyone."
Donnie Senft, 45, said he lives right around the corner and comes in almost every Tuesday and Friday. Like many other customers seated around the bar, he's on a first-name basis with the
Senft has decades of darts experience. He brought his dart set, which he's owned for about 20 years, to Bar Olympics. He tried to play down the fact that his high scores have been more than 1,000.
"I used to be good back in the day," he explained. His strategy, he added, is to aim for the bull's-eye every time. That way, if he misses, he can still hit high point zones. It seemed to work well for him.
Some of the regulars engaged in friendly banter with competitors. At one point, Meg even softly tossed a dart at her opponent. He laughed as he picked it up and handed it back to her.
"We try to do a lot of fun things," she said. "We play a lot of games."
Festivities are planned for almost every holiday - major or minor - on the calendar. At Halloween, partiers can pose next to a real coffin. At Easter, there's an adult egg hunt. On New Year's Eve, the tavern drops broasted chicken - a menu item that has a loyal following.
Other Valley Tavern fare includes seafood. You wouldn't think it would be good, Walker said, but it's surprisingly fresh.
Terry, an Emigsville native, and Meg, who hails from New Oxford, both have backgrounds in catering, so the tavern provides off-
premises catering at venues including the Seven Valleys Fire Hall. Terry's sister owns The Tourist Inn in Hellam Township. They do cross-
promotions even though the bars are halfway across the county from each other.
As far as drinks go, The Valley Tavern serves its signature Crick Water, which is like a muddier version of a Long Island iced tea that's served in a mason jar, Meg said. But light beer brands rank among the most-
The bar is the kind of place that attracts travelers and regulars who want to share a cold one with friends after a long day at work or on the road. Terry said sometimes the older farmers in the area will pull up a stool to swap stories.
The tavern is about
150 years old, Meg said. Back then, it was a boarding house. It became a place where people working in local factories, feed mills and on the railroad came to unwind. It's changed names and owners during the years. The Fullertons took over more than seven years ago.
Now, the bar walls are lined with wood paneling. Any beer taps not in use on the bar serve as decorations. Through a side door sits a non-smoking dining room fit for family-style meals.
Photos on the wall tell the tavern's history. A horse is tied to a post out front in a black-and-white snapshot circa 1890. The building's roof and blackened windows slump inward in a photo taken after a 1985 fire. Knee-deep water surrounds the structure in a picture taken last year after Tropical Storm Lee.
The Valley Tavern has endured it all, including the detour to date. Still, Meg is anxious for the road to reopen; a countdown ticks down the days on the tavern's website. But the dart tournament was an enjoyable distraction. Despite heckling, she made it to round two.
"I just throw," Meg said of her technique, or lack thereof. "I don't aim. I throw it like a baseball. They all laugh at me."
The Valley Tavern
The bar is at 1 Cherry St., Seven Valleys. Its smoking bar and non-smoking dining room are open seven days a week. The menu features broasted chicken, sandwiches and a variety of seafood dishes.
Carryout is available, and there is a six-pack store on site.
Bar Olympics continue with a pool tournament Tuesday, beer pong Oct. 2 and a championship event Oct. 16.
For details, call 717-428-2611 or visit thevalleytavern.com.
How do you get to The Valley Tavern when the main road into town is blocked?
Follow these directions if you're headed from York on Route 616 South:
Follow Route 616 South/Seven Valleys Road at the Route 616/Route 214 junction
Travel 1.2 miles (Hanover Junction)
Turn left onto Maple Street
Travel 1 mile
Turn left at stop sign on Main Street
Follow Main Street through Rail Trail underpass
The Valley Tavern is on the right
Work is expected to be completed in November.
FlipSide is taking its PopEye column on the road to explore taverns around York County. In this ongoing series, we'll give readers a peek inside small-town bars and out-of-the-way watering holes. At each stop, we'll learn about local history and share stories about the people at and behind the bar.
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