Community Connection
Blogs » Community Connection
By Ginny Tonkin staff blogger
Ginny Tonkin loves traveling off the beaten path, learning about new cultures through food, and everything outdoors. She recently spent eight months teaching English in Vietnam, and loves swapping travel stories.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-464-5589


Posts tagged "meadville"
Posted: March 29th, 2012

Photo by Maria Firkaly at Pymatuning State Park.

Drumroll please…introducing’s Facebook Timeline cover photo winner: Maria Firkaly. Check it out on Facebook.

A mom of two boys (and two dogs), Firkaly works at Center for Family Services in Meadville and also runs her own social media marketing business.

We asked: “What does Crawford County mean to you?” Firkaly’s photo of Pymatuning State Park captured what she loves most about Crawford County: its peaceful atmosphere.

“I just had my boys and neighbor with me at the beach that day,” said Firkaly. “It was a really pretty day; I also got some great sunset photos.”

Firkaly loves living in Crawford.

“You don’t have to travel very far to find nature, places to relax, to spend time with your family, to find inexpensive activities.”

Originally a Pittsburgh area native, Firkaly now lives in Epsyville. “It’s peaceful, there’s wildlife, people are friendly.”

GoCrawfordCounty is now excited to launch our Facebook Timeline.  We feel social media can help us better stay connected with you. More importantly, you can stay better connected with us.

A big thanks to all our entries, we loved hearing from you, and receiving your photos.

Now that our Timeline is launched, we’d love to continue hearing from you. Have news? Announcing an event? Submit an article directly online. Submit, even if it’s a ways off.

Have photos to share? Submit to our community photo album. Share your events on our event listings: these become the “Briefs” you see in print.

We love to hear from you: post on our Facebook Timeline, or tweet at us @GoCrawfordCTY. Shoot us an email at Or, you can send us a message directly through Facebook.

Like Firkaly, what do you love about Crawford County?

She says, “I’m very glad I found myself here.”

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: March 19th, 2012

What does Crawford County mean to you?

Want to be famous? Or at least, Facebook famous? needs your help: We’re launching our Facebook Timeline profile page, and we want your photography featured. Post on the Facebook wall, in our community album, or email ( to submit your photo for our Facebook Timeline cover photo competition.

We want to know: What does Crawford County mean to you?

Show us; submit your photos for our Timeline cover photo.

Deadline? Wednesday March 29; We need you photos on our Facebook wall, in our community album, or in our in box by 11:59 p.m.

Remember, Facebook Timeline cover photos are horizontal; try to find a shot that works well within the space.

Want some wacky inspiration? Click through creative profiles here and here. Browse our galleries, or our community photo album to see what others have posted in the past.

Don’t forget to Like on Facebook; share your work with your friends and community.

So, what does Crawford County mean to you? Show us; a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: February 21st, 2012

Let the eat cake. And soup. And throw in a scoop of ice cream, too.

The Community Improvement Center, operated through the United Way of Western Crawford County, will throw a Cake Walk, Soup and Ice Cream Social, February 26 from 3-6 p.m. at the ARC of Crawford County. An outgrowth of the successful community improvement day, Make a Difference Day, the CIC is raising funds to propel their project-based service organization forward.

“Every year about 125 projects are completed on Make a Difference Day,” said Amy Woods, Executive Director of the United Way of Western Crawford County. “Throughout the year, we hope to complete another 125 projects through the CIC.”

“Now we have to beg, borrow, and steal (for funding),” said Woods.

“Make a Difference Day” is an event that makes an army of volunteers of the Crawford community for a day participating in projects like building ramp ways for wheelchairs and installing roofs. Unfortunately, 24 hours doesn’t provide enough time or materials to get all projects completed. The Community Improvement Center was started to address those issues, and operates within the United Way of Western Crawford County.

“Ours is unique because it’s project-based,” said Katie Huser, the United Way’s VISTA, who currently heads the Center.

The CIC’s issue—and the aim—is to become sustainable.

“The more funding we get, the more projects we can complete, and the more we can do for the community,” said Woods, who wants to bring awareness and funding to the CIC. “We have a waiting list of people, because we have no funding for materials. We rely 100% on fundraising and volunteers.”

Huser envisions the CIC as a “clearing house,” a place to connect those who have needs to those who can help them.

“People who call in [a project] are generally those physically and financially unable,” said Huser, calling some stories “heart-breaking” to hear.

The CIC’s Calk Walk, Soup and Ice Cream Social aims to bring funds and awareness to the center. Local restaurants and organizations are pitching in to help the event, including donations of cakes and soups. The recently re-opened Susie’s Ice Cream Factory in Titusville will be donating all the ice cream for the Social.

David Funk of Susie’s said the re-imagined ice cream factory loves to keep the community strong. “We really support local; United Way is a great organization,” said Funk. “We donate out in the community when there’s certain events; we try to keep it all local.”

Want to help? Here’s how.

1)   Show up. And have fun.

The three-hour event is packed with activity, as the name suggests, including a calk walk, a soup contest, and an ice cream social. Vote for your favorite soup in the cook-off; the soup with the most money in its jar will be declared a winner. Take stroll on the cakewalk; tickets are $1 per game, $6 for five, or $10 for an unlimited pass.

2)   Bake

Showcase your culinary talents, and donate a cake! The CIC is taking donations of cakes for the cakewalk. Crawford County restaurants will compete for the best soup; throw yours into the running, too.

3)   Donate.

Your time, your money. Contact the CIC and ask for Katie Huser at 814-337-1251 if you or your organization want to volunteer.

4)   Spread the word.

Know someone in need? Tell them to contact the CIC.

Event Details:

What?  Cake Walk, Soup, and Ice Cream Social

Where? The ARC of Crawford County, 22 Chestnut Street, Meadville

When? 3-6 pm February 26

Benefiting who? The Community Improvement Center, operated through the United Way.

More info? Find the United Way of Western Crawford County on Facebook, and visit their event page.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: November 14th, 2011

Florence “Shutsy” Reynolds was seven years old when she announced to her skeptical family in 1928 she was going to be a pilot.

“They said, ‘That’s too bad. Women don’t fly planes,’” said Reynolds.

She proved them and societal convention wrong in 1942, by joining the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II.

Today, women veterans are honored at Active Aging’s 12th annual “Through a Veteran’s Eye: A Salute” in Meadville for Veterans Day. Each year, the event selects a unique group of veterans to commemorate. This year, Reynolds, now 90, along with Debbie Ford, 91, a nurse who served in hospitals in North Africa during WWII, will address the event.

“It’s a great honor to be asked to speak,” said Reynolds, who as a WASP flew on the home front to free male pilots for combat missions. She wants the WASP legacy and work of women in the armed services to live on.

“When the war broke out, woman were only 10% of the work force. They could only work as nurses, stenographers, or school teachers. If they were married, they didn’t work,” said Reynolds. “The need was desperate. They needed pilots.”

“Women’s roles have changed so much. Previously, they could only play in the band, work in communications, or in administration,” said Director of Veterans Services, Fred Cunningham. “Today, they’re right in the thick of everything.”

Cunningham emphasizes that women are imperative to the work in Iraq and Afghanistan today, because of the sensitive nature of gender roles in those countries. For Veterans Day, both Reynolds and Ford will be able to share their stories, many of which of gone unheard or unappreciated.

“In December 1944, WASP was disbanded, and buried and classified for thirty years,” said Reynolds. “The male officers were afraid that we proved we did the job.”

Reynolds says that women were treated as second-class citizens. A male officer told her, “WASPs are expendable. If you don’t like it, pack your bags and go back home.”

“We have a unique ability to have the opportunity to do something for someone local,” said Cunningham. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to invite the children, to talk with people of the era.”

“It’s amazing the relationships and connections that are formed,” said Pam Roberts. “We saw a real need for veterans to come together and share stories.”

The opening ceremony starts at 8:30 am.


This article appeared in the November 11, 2011 print issue of

Post your news, events, photos, and more on

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: November 1st, 2011
Fake eyelashes add fabulous flare to these Halloween costumes at the Meadville Halloween Parade.

Fake eyelashes add fabulous flare to these Halloween costumes at the Meadville Halloween Parade.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to look through pictures from Saturday night’s 45th Annual Meadville Halloween Parade, they are up! Take a look at them here.


Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: October 26th, 2011
Wesbury's Black Pearl won the float competition's Best Overall category in 2010. - contributed from Andy Clawson

Wesbury's Black Pearl won the float competition's Best Overall category in 2010. - contributed by Andy Clawson

Have any Halloween weekend plans? Join tens of thousands that gather in downtown Meadville to for the Annual Halloween Parade this Saturday, October 29.

Sponsored by Annual Crawford Area Young Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Meadville Chamber of Commerce, the parade is celebrating its 45th year with the theme “Through the Ages.”

Called the largest nighttime parade in Pennsylvania, this parade attracts about 25,000 spectators, lining the streets of Meadville to sneak a peak at over a hundred entries and floats.

“People come from all over. We get participants and spectators from all over Crawford, Erie, and Ohio. They see our buinesses, what Meadville has to offer,” said Halloween Parade Chair, Meghan Cressman.

Cressman said over 140 entries, from local pageant organizations to motorcycle clubs, have registered so far for the parade. Competition for best float is steep, including youth, for-profit, non-profit, and overall categories.

Last year, Wesbury Retirement Community took home the prize for overall under last year’s “Treasure Island” theme.

“Wesbury’s float was modeled after the Black Pearl pirate ship. It had a cannon that fired off, Captain Jack Sparrow, and other characters from the ‘pirates’ films,” said Andy Clawson, Director of Communications at Wesbury.

Kids rode in tiny pirate ships as part of Wesbury's Black Pearl float in 2010's Meaville Halloween Parade. - contributed by Andy Clawson

Kids rode in tiny pirate ships as part of Wesbury's Black Pearl float in 2010's Meaville Halloween Parade. - contributed by Andy Clawson

“We even had our small ‘train’ we use at our chicken BBQ. It was pulled by a tractor, made into tiny pirate ships, and kids rode in those.”

Unique themes and the possibility of an award each year encourages float builder volunteers to go over the top year after year.

“It just shows a lot of hard work, time and energy pays off, and gives those that volunteer the incentive to go bigger and better the next year.”

“You never know what you’re going to see. The reason we have a theme is to keep it new and fresh each year,” said Cressman.

This year, the CAYCC is establishing a two-block “siren free zone” where families that may be sensitive to loud noises can appreciate the parade without starling siren sounds. Families can sit in between the corner North and Market St. to Market and Walnut St.

The parade goes on regardless of rain; dress for the weather. If rain holds off, Clown City Clowns will circulate the crowds starting at 5 p.m.

Parade line up starts at 4:00 p.m. and needs to be in place by 4:30 p.m. To be considered for float competition judging, floats need to be ready by 5 p.m.

The parade starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: October 24th, 2011

Want a perfect pumpkin to complement spooky Halloween decorations? From the traditional grinning gourd to the uncouth and unconventional, there are plenty of ways to make this year’s pumpkin stand out.

First things first: Pick the perfect carving pumpkin. Keep the design in mind.

“It’s all in your personal preference,” said John Bartic of Al’s Melons, a farm market and green house in Meadville. “People prefer different looks, size. There’s no wrong or right way.”

Second: Get creative. It helps to look at inspired creations. Surf the net and browse images of “creative pumpkin carving ideas” on Google. also offers great ideas and images of stellar chiseled creations.

Third: Pick your poison. What design will you attempt this year?


Templates help finalize designs before plunging into pumpkins. Sketch ideas on paper, then transfer the chosen design onto a piece of wax paper. Pin the wax paper to the pumpkin, and poke holes through the paper to generate an outline to carve. Pre-made templates also abound online for the artistically challenged.


Who says the stem goes on top? Work with this natural protrusion: turn the pumpkin on its side and use the stem as a nose. Or, cut off the top altogether. Position the gourd upside down and work with its unique curves.


A big trend in extreme pumpkin carving is 3D carving. Instead of that iconic lantern look, 3D carvers use the pale fleshy part of the pumpkin to create creepy and realistic sculptures. While thinner pumpkin walls aid traditional carving, which removes full pieces from the rind, 3D pumpkin carving favors thicker walls, providing more material with which to work. 3D pumpkin carving artist, Scott Cummins recommends on his site buying larger pumpkins for their larger, thicker rinds.


Who says all carvings need to be pumpkins? Gourds come in all shapes and sizes. Try using the multihued varieties found at farmers markets and stands, and play up their unique coloring. Turn a white gourd into a ghoulish ghost. Or, incorporate smaller gourds into larger carvings as appendages, like ears or arms.


Are you utilizing all of your pumpkin? Use the “pumpkin guts,” the stringy insides, to create a spooky look on the outside of your carving. Pull large strands out of a carved mouth or have them spill onto the ground.

Do you have any pumpkin carving photos? We want to see them! Just click on “Submit photos” on! 

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: October 2nd, 2011

Dreams came true for the two royalties crowned Saturday evening at the 57th Miss Crawford County Pageant.

“This really is a lifetime dream. I’ve wanted to be Miss Crawford County since I was six years old and saw the pageant,” said Hillary Baughman, moments after she was crowned Miss Crawford County 2011.

“I’m still a little jittery, I don’t really believe it actually happened,” said Ashlyn Devore, standing next to Baughman, newly crowned as Outstanding Teen.

“It’s really a dream, because my sister was Miss Crawford County, and just following her footsteps just really makes me excited.”

The MASH auditorium buzzed with activity that day for “An Enchanted Evening.” Starting at 10am, Dixie Shaffer emceed the morning’s show, including the Little Miss, Junior Miss, and Baby Miss pageant competitions.

All were back in action to crown the 2011 Miss Crawford County and Outstanding Teen that evening with emcee Joe Galbo.

“Enjoy every event, little kids will want their picture with you and your autograph,” said Miss Crawford County 2010 Jacklyn Schnauber, offering advice to the next queen. “Meet lots of new people… bring a camera and take lots of pictures.”

A final farewell slideshows captured the year’s highlights for both outgoing Outstanding Teen 2010 Miranda Robison and for an emotional Schnauber as Miss Crawford County.

Miss Crawford County's Outstanding Teen 2011: Ashlyn Devore

Miss Crawford County's Outstanding Teen 2011: Ashlyn Devore

The Miss Crawford County Pageants recognizes its contestants for a variety of special awards. From the Outstanding Teen constants, Michaela Morrel took home the Miss Congeniality, Community Choice, and Essay awards, while Teen constant Libby Hornstein took home the Lifestyle/Physical Fitness and Talent awards. Lexi Abplanalp received top marks to win the Interview award.

From the Miss Crawford County contestants, Alyssa Messet won Miss Congeniality, while Stephanie Owens won the sponsorship award, the Taleant award, as well as for her platform basket, which highlighted Music Education for Children. Hillary Baughman won the Essay award, while Lacey Weaver took home the Lifestyle/Physical Fitness award. Victoria Coleman received top marks to win the Interview award.

Watch videos of contestants Anne Grill and Brooke Cozzens during the all-important on-stage interview, and moments-after reactions from Baughman and Devore on Click through pictures in the Miss Crawford County 2011 photo gallery to see images from the evening pageant.

If you have photos you want to share, click on “Submit photos” to post your own.


Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 15th, 2011
The team of Tom Krawiec, Jason Sines, and Jeff McCullor.

The team of Tom Krawiec, Jason Sines, and Jeff McCullor.

Despite the high of 56° F today that firmly pushed summer out of sight, over 120 teams gathered to play at the Meadville Area Chamber of Commerce Mt. Hope Golf Scramble.

Check out photos from the scramble in our photo gallery. Were you there? Submit your photos here.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 14th, 2011

Ten years ago, Dan Crandall was setting up for the 5th Annual Taste of Meadville. The earlier events of the day September 11, 2001, had been weighing on him and other organizers. Would they still hold Taste of Meadville?

“It was a pretty tough day, we had just started learning about all the bad things that had been going on, the planes crashing,” said Crandall. As a group, the committee decided the Taste of Meadville would go on.

“As Americans it was incumbent on us to continue on and go forward I think if you let terrorists change the way you live and the way you feel about america, then they win,” he said. “We decided to do it, just maybe as an escape for the people who had been going through the terrible things of that day.

Before the official start of this year’s Taste of Meadville, ten years later, the Taste of Meadville committee held a small prayer ceremony “to keep it fresh in our minds and not to forget.”

“Even though it’s a nice, happy event, that was kind of a solemn moment,” said Crandall.

The HHC 1st Battalion from the Cambridge Springs Stryker Unit presented the colors and MASHapella from Meadville Area High School commemorated the occasion with song.

For more photos from the 15th Annual Taste of Meadville, check out our photo gallery. For more Crawford County events, follow @GoCrawfordCty on Twitter.

Posted in: Crawford County

Switch to our mobile site