‘People come to be together’: Community ties celebrated at Warwick Old Home Days

  • Tom Ricardi was at Warwick Old Home Days on Saturday with his birds of prey show. Here, Alyssa Remillard, 9, of Northfield, and siblings Isabelle Sheldon, 7, and Aubrey Sheldon, 4, of Warwick, meet a kestrel. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Jenny Burtis of Warwick entertained the crowds at Warwick Old Home Days on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Emily Peters and her daughter, Amy Killay, were selling jams and pickles at Warwick Old Home Days on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Deputy Fire Chief Mike Mankowsky and Firefighter Shane Barberian kept the burgers and fries cooking at Warwick Old Home Days on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/30/2022 9:19:47 AM
Modified: 8/30/2022 9:19:35 AM

WARWICK — Old Home Days returned to the town common over the weekend, offering an occasion for residents to reconnect with friends and neighbors.

While Saturday and Sunday featured many events, including a cardboard boat race, dancing, community meals, a tai chi demonstration, open mic and a historic cemetery walk, the event’s main attraction is those who attend.

“Everyone who lives here now and in the past comes out,” said Tom Wyatt, a resident of Warwick for the last 38 years. “I saw someone today I haven’t seen in 25 years.”

Wyatt loves Old Home Days and said he has attended almost all of them throughout the years. He explained when he first moved to Warwick, living in a tent with his wife, he “didn’t know a soul.” Since then he has built a home in town as well as a community. While he’s moving away from Warwick to live closer to his grandchildren, he plans to come back for Old Home Days in the future.

People were welcome to set up tag sale tables on the common for free on Saturday, with no registration required.

Susan Krieger and her husband, Warwick residents for 35 years, set up a table to sell small handmade houses crafted out of wood, mushrooms, seashells and moss. They used to sell goods at flea markets and craft sales, but have stopped since the start of the pandemic.

“I’m just here to see neighbors and have a burger,” Krieger said. “This is a fun event.”

Those burgers were served by the Warwick Fire Department. For roughly 30 years, the department has hosted a cookout for lunch during the event as a fundraiser for new equipment and uniforms.

Many longtime neighbors gathered around picnic tables throughout the afternoon, recounting memories from Old Home Days of the past.

Steve Kurkoski, a Warwick resident for 52 years, recounted having bed races. People gathered in teams of four. One played laid in the bed, and the three other members pushed the bed up the hill next to the common. Each team raced to the top of the hill, with the fastest being crowned the winner.

That is just one example of the innovative games that have been played at Old Home Days. Another game of the past consisted of two pianos, a sledgehammer and an 8-inch hole. Teams were instructed to break the pianos into pieces, fitting the bits into a small hole. Kurkoski remembers breaking the hole when he played one year, winning the game but breaking the rules in the process.

Richard “Dick” Shepardson has lived in Warwick his entire life, except for four years when he was serving in the military. Shepardson recounted playing children’s games at past Old Home Days, such as three-legged races, and remembers winning every game of the children’s section one year.

“I came home with a lot of nickels, dimes and quarters in my pocket,” he said.

There were newcomers to the town celebrating on the common as well. Dylan Bertucco moved to Warwick from Alabama seven months ago. He is about to start his sophomore year at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield.

“My favorite part of the event is the live music,” he commented.

“All these towns in the area are dynamite towns,” open mic organizer Jim McRae said. McRae moved to Warwick in 1991, finding a music scene in the town of roughly 700 residents. He organizes the open mic at Old Home Days every year, and this year he played with his band, Space Bar, on Saturday night.

“We don’t have many community gathering spots. We don’t have stores or a post office,” McRae continued. “All we have are these intentional gatherings where people come to be together.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com

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