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New Salem Old Home Day offers fun from beginning to end

  • Family and friends take photos and videos while several children participate in the pie eating contest during New Salem’s Old Home Day, held Saturday, July 15, 2017 around the Town Common. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • Eight-year-old Solomon Burke (at left) and 7-year-old Lucas Briand participate in the pie eating contest during New Salem's Old Home Day, held Saturday, July 15, 2017 around the Town Common. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • Seven-year-old Ethan Day of South Hadley celebrates victory following a pie eating contest at New Salem’s Old Home Day, held Saturday, around the Town Common. At left, sits fellow competitor Solomon Burke, 8, of New Salem. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • Local residents march in the New Salem Old Home Day parade, held Saturday, July 15, 2017 on South Main Street. —Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • Twin sisters Lily and Brooke Bajnoci, 3, of New Salem ride on tricycles during New Salem's Old Home Day, held Saturday, July 15, 2017 around the Town Common. —Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • Levi Baruch, 18, of Orange and Henry Frost, 19, of New Salem try their hands at the cross-cut saw contest as part of New Salem’s Old Home Day, held Saturday around the Town Common. Baruch and Frost had a time of 29.62 seconds. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

  • The Tequila Amigos perform during New Salem’s Old Home Day, held Saturday around the Town Common. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline



Recorder Staff
Saturday, July 15, 2017

NEW SALEM — With his hands fixed behind his back, 7-year-old Ethan Day of South Hadley plunged his face into a slice of pie on the picnic table in front of him.

Within a few moments, Day came upright, berries and filling smeared across his face. Looking at the empty paper plate, he threw both fists in the air, declaring victory in the second round of the New Salem Old Home Day’s pie-eating contest.

The pie-eating contest was just one of many events surrounding the Town Common, entertaining residents and nonresidents of all ages.

“From beginning to end, there’s always activities going on,” said New Salem resident Nicole Bajnoci, as she sat with her husband Shane watching their 3-year-old twin daughters Lily and Brooke pedal in circles on tricycles. “The girls just enjoy it more and more as they get older.”

The laundry list of events included fan favorites like the cross-cut saw contest and parade, as well as new additions like musical chairs, according to former Old Home Day Co-Chair Jane Cloukay. This year, organizers also dedicated a tree to Glen and Rosemary Lyman in honor of their years of work maintaining town properties.

Roy Bombard and Nancy Carruth, both of Orange, have been attending Old Home Day for 10 years, particularly enjoying the firefighters’ pancake breakfast and live music.

“This is a beautiful fair,” Carruth said simply.

Having moved to New Salem in 2011, Bajnoci has attended Old Home Day for five years, and commented on the particularly good turnout at this year’s event.

“It’s nice to see people out enjoying it again,” she said. Around her, people milled about watching the band, Tequila Amigos, and visiting booths with local vendors.

For Bajnoci, the sense of community is what keeps her coming back year after year. Community, organizers say, is what Old Home Day is all about.

“We live up here in the woods and in the winter everybody hunkers down,” Cloukay explained. “You don’t get out much. Old Home Day, if nothing else, is a chance to see your neighbors.”

“It is probably the event that (brings people together) the most out of the entire year,” agreed Jeanne Clayton, a member of the New Salem Recreation Committee. “You see old friends, talk to people.”

Old Home Day, Clayton continued, allows relationships to flourish regardless of former divisions.

“Everybody’s in a good mood,” she said. “Whether you disagreed with someone in a political campaign or during town meeting, we’re all neighbors.”

The event has its origins back in the late 1960s, according to Mary-Ann Palmieri, a former Old Home Day Committee member. Beginning as a reunion for New Salem Academy students, it morphed into something all its own after the school closed.

Each year, the event is centered around a theme. Keeping with the spirit of the community, this year’s theme was “Everybody’s Welcome.” Attendees were invited to mark their family’s origins with pins on a map, and flags from various countries lined the roadside along South Main Street.

“In New Salem, everybody’s welcome,” Cloukay said, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Reach Shelby Ashline at:
sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261 ext. 257