CHAMBERSBURG - Mike and Louise West have been married for 50 years. Except for Mike’s time in the Army, they have made it to just about every Old Market Day celebration since they began 30 year ears ago.
Both Wests are retired now, and live in town, though spent a number of years in Fort Benning, Ga.
“I like this,” said Mike, plowing into the lunch he bought at one of the seemingly endless line of food and drink vendors strewn along Main Street. “We come back every year.”
Old Market Day is an integral part of the borough’s ChambersFest, a week of festivities celebrating life, culture and business in downtown Chambersburg. The festival of arts, crafts, food and entertainment is one of the headlining events of the celebration along with the Burning of Chambersburg commemoration at dusk the same evening, which notes the rebirth of the town after it was burned to the ground by Confederate forces on July 16, 1864.
As usual, the weather was sweltering, though a good breeze showed up by mid-day. Sales of everything, especially iced drinks, seemed brisk.
Whatever the official reason for the event, in appearance it seemed a celebration of food. Exotic and traditional meats, prepared in a welter of ways, much can of it perhaps not recommended by many physicians but certainly good for the soul.
Sausage with curry sauce. Chicken wraps. Food prepared in the traditions of Mexico and the Orient. Funnel cake. It’s probably illegal to hold a festival in Pennsylvania and not offer funnel cakes.
The Wests shared a table with a number of people, at a spot that in only in a few hours would be roaring with traffic once more. It was hot and glaring with sunshine, but nobody seemed to mind all that much.
There would have been more talk if not for all the food.
Most of those at the table were repeat attendees and then some, but not Jeany Cross, who has only lived in the Chambersburg area for seven years.
Sure, she and her family had heard of Old Market Day and even driven past it but didn’t really “get” it.
Until now. Surrounded by milling visitors and children in various moods and at assorted volumes, Cross said she would likely be back again.
“I like this,” she said, beaming.