‘Two Grannies on the Road’ to join paddlers in Athol River Rat Race

By MAX BOWEN

News Editor

Published: 04-06-2023 5:04 PM

The hosts of “Two Grannies on the Road” will experience all things Athol when they spend two days in town, including taking part in the River Rat Race.

Beth Sobiloff and Marcia Rothwell were in neighboring Orange last summer and were told about the annual race. Intrigued, the two decided to return to record an episode of their show, in which they explore one town after another in Massachusetts, with the goal of seeing them all.

Sobiloff said these journeys are packed with visits to local businesses, seeing the sights, talking with area historians and, whenever possible, going to an ice cream parlor.

“We always end the day with ice cream if we can,” Sobiloff said with a laugh.

The two arrived in Athol today and have quite the itinerary. After breakfast at Kellie’s, they’ll meet with historians and see the Athol Public Library and L.S. Starrett Museum. Sobiloff said learning about a town’s history is very important to them.

“It’s just fun to hear about and learn about the town,” she said.

Afterward, they’ll visit the shipping company Else Where and Girardi Distributors, a family-owned and operated beverage distribution company. Sobiloff said the owner of Else Where is a big fan of the show.

Following a drive to the police memorial and village green, they’ll grab lunch at Los Agaves Grill and see the Athol Bird and Nature Club, Haley’s Antiques and Athol-Orange Community Television for an interview. Dinner will be at the Black Crow Pub and Grill, where they’ll meet organizers of the River Rat Race. The day will conclude with going to Athol Town Hall to get their numbers for the race.

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Such a packed schedule is common for the hosts. Rothwell does the research while Sobiloff handles video editing. Facebook groups are an integral part of this, as Sobiloff said they don’t want to stick to tourist sites, but want recommendations from residents. Normally the trips are just one day, but since the two are driving all the way from Plymouth, they opted to make it a two-day adventure.

Saturday will kick off with a pancake breakfast. After that, it’s time for the race. Sobiloff said they’ve been practicing, since canoeing is a little new to them, being more used to kayaking. Billy Goat Boats is providing a canoe for them to use.

“We’re not going to really try to win, we’re doing to participate and have fun,” she said. “Our main goal is to not go in the water.”

The show has it roots in 2014, when Sobiloff was dreaming about traveling cross-country in an RV. Ginny Just was the show’s co-founder, and the original format was speaking with retirees who had reinvented themselves. Just eventually left the show after retiring, and Debbie Thelen became the second co-host, eventually moving to Florida. Sobiloff and Rothwell met in June 2022 and began working together on the current iteration. Among their planned future stops are Hingham, Natick, towns in the Quabbin area, the Berkshires and Shelburne Falls.

“The historical part is something we really look forward to,” said Sobiloff when asked about their favorite things to see and do. “The food, we’ve had some really great food across the state. There’s so many beautiful natural places to see and experience in Massachusetts.”

The “Two Grannies on the Road” show airs on Plymouth Area Community Television as well as other community TV stations in Massachusetts, and on YouTube. For more information, visit twogranniesontheroad.com.

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