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by Troy Graham
From a mile away it sounded like the entire town of Lost Creek was on fire. Dozens of fire trucks from departments around Harrison County were parading down the streets blowing their sirens and horns, as children tried to simultaneously cover their ears and grab candy thrown into the crowd.
It was a sound that meant the Lost Creek Fall Festival was underway. But, if you hear those sirens this time next year, it means the town really is on fire.
The festival, which has become a Lost Creek tradition in recent years, is in its final year. Several people said organizers lacked the help necessary to continue the event, that the same people were doing all the work every year.
"After three or four years it does start to lose its flavor," said Dr. Charles Lefebure. "The crowd's really off."
But, the imminent end of the event wasn't going to spoil the fun for those who attended the festival Saturday, including Lefebure. The local orthopedic surgeon was roasting a 100-pound pig, which will feed more than 150 people, on a motorized rotating spit. The doctor said he has had a lot of fun over the years with his culinary hobby, and he figures the festival will be reincarnated after people miss out on the event's atmosphere next year.
"It'll probably come back up some way, maybe with a different style," he said.
One event that some participants definitely want to see continued is the mud volleyball tournament. In the last several years Martha Dye has plowed over her garden and allowed organizers to use a fire hose to turn the plot of land into a muddy quagmire.
"Oh yeah, we had a blast," said Pete Rome, who was washing himself off in a nearby creek after his team finished third.
"It's sanitary," said teammate Brian Rowe. "That's the lost creek, we found it."
"You're still cleaning yourself three days later," said Rome.
As two teams played in the championship game, ankle-deep in mud, spectators encouraged the players to dive for the ball. Rome, a former semi-pro volleyball player, said they hope to continue the tournament on a sand court next year in Johnstown.
Like any good festival, Lost Creek was also overflowing with crafts, raffles and 50-50 drawings, and enough food to give the whole town heartburn. And, of course, the requisite festival games.
The festival has probably the most unique game around. The homemade brainchild of Hundred's Roger Spragg consisted of a gigantic slingshot built onto a platform. Sixty yards away sat what looked like a basketball goal with a red dot in the middle. Participants put water balloons in the slingshot and let them fly at the goal, where children waited to try and catch the misfires. If you hit the goal you won a small prize. If you hit the red dot a bell rung and you won a large prize.
As each contestant took the platform to take their shot, Spragg coached them on how far to pull back the slingshot and when to let go.
"The little kids do great," said Spragg's wife, Shirley. "I think they listen to him better than the adults."