SHILLINGTON — Tom Rodino and Lyn O'Hare, both of Shillington, sat in the shade of a tree outside Gov. Mifflin High School Saturday, July 6, as they waited for the music to start at Greater Gov. Mifflin League's Community Days.
Rodino, 59, has been attending the annual festival for at least 20 years, and O'Hare, 56, about 15 years. They attend mostly for the entertainment.
"Sitting outside, listening to music, street food," Rodino said. "It's all good there."
"It's not necessarily what act is playing," O'Hare added. "We just like being outside. And we still come here even though the kids are all grown and out."
Now in its 44th year, Community Days is held annually on the grounds of Governor Mifflin middle and high schools. This year's Community Days started Monday, July 1, and concluded Saturday, July 6.
In addition to a full slate of live musical acts, the event includes rides, games and a variety of food stands. It culminates with a fireworks display.
Since its inception, the event has raised nearly $500,000 for organizations in the community, including fire companies, ambulance associations, scout troops, school projects, community projects and scholarships, said Bonnie Marquette, president of the Greater Gov. Mifflin League.
"Really, anybody who would like any kind of assistance organization-wise, we're happy to help them," she said. "We give to the fire departments, we give to the emergency services people, and we go through a whole list of people every time we do a Community Days and decide how much we should give based on how much our profit was."
Marquette has been involved with the event since the early 1990s, first with her church. She said it gets bigger and better every year.
However, she said, it's too difficult to track how many attendees there are.
"I just know that come Saturday night, the midway is packed," she said. "Monday is the lightest day, then each day gets a little bit busier, and then Saturday night, they're packed in like sardines. There's a lot of people."
Rodino and O'Hare said the event is much bigger now than it was when they first attended. O'Hare said she was on the committee that plans it for a few years, and there's a lot of work that goes into it.
"Really everybody's goal is to have a nice week for everybody," she said. "It's a win-win, not only for the community, but the vendors have an opportunity to sell their wares, and everybody seems to enjoy it."
While it is a win-win for the community, there are many challenges to putting the event on, Marquette said. Chief among them is manpower.
"The idea of Community Days was always to have the local nonprofits help out," she said. "As the years go by, fewer people volunteer to participate. Setting up on the Saturday before we start is always a challenge because we're limited to the number of people we have. Thank God for the Boy Scouts because they come and help us set up and clean up."
Despite the challenges, Marquette said, putting on an event that raises money for so many different organizations and provides fun and entertainment for so many people is very fulfilling.
"It's a really good feeling when we sit down at that meeting and we say, 'Here's what we brought in,' and we distribute it to the nonprofits," she said.