For two days in early October, the Hickory Apple Festival brings thousands of visitors to Mount Pleasant Township in Washington County. And while the Festival is primarily focused on food, fun and family activities, it also serves as a critical fundraiser for the Mount Pleasant Township Volunteer Fire Company. Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources is a regular supporter, as the festival takes place just miles from the site where the company pioneered the Marcellus Shale.
“Range Resources’ support of the Apple Festival has been very important,” says Chairman of the Hickory Apple Festival and President of the Volunteer Fire Company, Gary Farner. “It helps to otherwise curtail some of the costs we could incur.”
The Hickory Apple Festival is the Volunteer Fire Department’s largest fundraiser, typically netting somewhere between $70,000 and $90,000.
“Range gives a donation to the fire department, and they also cover the cost of two very popular kids’ events at the festival: face painting and the petting zoo,” says Farner. “Their sponsorship means we can make these events free to the public, and that means a lot to the families who come to our festival.”
This year’s event took place over a warm weekend in early October, and while the weather wasn’t what you’d call crisp, the apples were – with bushels available for purchase at the festival on Main Street in downtown Hickory. More than 1600 pies were prepared in advance of the event, with a battalion of volunteers rolling dough and helping with apple product prep in the days and weeks leading up to this year’s festival.
Christina Kramer with Range Resources helps to coordinate the company’s participation in several festivals throughout the region each year. Oftentimes, like at the Apple Festival, Range will have a booth where employees will spend the weekend interacting with the community.
“The Hickory Apple Festival is always a great time, and it’s an event our employees are happy to be a part of,” says Kramer. “It gives us a chance to show our support for the community, to meet new friends, and to help Festival organizers meet their most important goal – raising money for the first responders in Washington County.”
Farner hopes to see the Hickory Apple Festival return for many years to come, but he stresses that the event can only continue with the help of volunteers from companies like Range Resources and from the community. And he says new volunteers are needed. “The average age of our volunteers for the Apple Festival is 74. And while it’s great that older members of the community are still so involved, we need younger residents and young families to join our volunteer ranks to keep this Festival going.”
This weekend, volunteers from Range Resources will return to another much-loved local fall event: the annual Houston Pumpkin Festival. The celebration begins this Friday, October 13 and runs through Sunday, October 15. Range Resources has supported the Pumpkin Festival for a decade, donating tens of thousands of dollars since 2008 and regularly covering the cost of entertainment as bands play on the festival’s main stage. Range also sponsors a kids’ costume contest that takes place at Heritage House on Saturday morning, supplying over 300 treat bags for children; and Range employees and their families toss candy to parade-goers along Pike Street during the Pumpkin Festival Parade. All proceeds from the Houston Pumpkin Festival benefit the Houston Volunteer Fire Department.
“First responders are among our most valued local partnerships, they are critically important to Range’s operations and to the communities where our employees live and work,” says Kramer. “Range has locations in both Mount Pleasant and Chartiers Townships, so it’s important for us to support the first responders in these areas. Supporting local festivals helps our donations go further, and our employees are happy to be a part of these long-running family-oriented events.”