JUNIATA — Juniata Days last weekend exceeded expectations.
Estimates of 600 people showed up to the community barbecue at the Juniata Fire Department Station and 468 legal-aged people for the beer garden and street dance Saturday night street along the main street.
Ryan Hughes, who worked on the Juniata Days committee and helped get the event started, said he didn’t expect so many people.
“I honestly thought we would serve a couple hundred people,” he said. “I think it’s one that will go down in history.”
This was Juniata Days’ first time since 1996.
“That just goes to show you how much community support you have for an event of this nature,” Hughes said
At the public barbecue, the line snaked around the garage and outside and people grew concerned that they would run out of ribs and brisket. Before the event began, Hughes was confident they would have enough for everyone who came.
At the end of the night, Hughes said there were “maybe a few” ribs left.
Galen Wrinkler, one of the competition participants, said they started cooking at 7 a.m. and through the event that started at 5:30 p.m. He estimated they made about 60 racks of ribs and 48 briskets.
“They were big too,” said Mike Rohan of Hastings, talking about the briskets.
Rohan took first place at the competition. He said he has entered barbecue competitions with partners before, but this was his first time winning alone.
Hughes wanted to bring back Juniata Days with John Edwards, a committee member, for four years. After making the proposal to the village board, the event was “approved instantly,” Hughes said.
For Hughes, the event helps the community grow and come together. Money from the softball tournament will go to the softball fields and donations from the barbecue will go to the fire department.
Juniata Days also brought the community together. Tricia Hughes, Hughes’ wife and another committee member, said she grew up in Juniata when Juniata Days was still around.
“Just working together gives that community feeling again. When I was a kid, I remember the parade every year and that kind of went away,” Tricia said.” It’s just nice for people to get outside and actually building relationships and having communication with people.
The committee started planning with no money, but was quickly able to get volunteers and sponsors to help. During the day Saturday, the fire department drove kids around in the firetrucks, letting them talk on the radio and playing in the water. Several business also donated water.
“The nice thing about it, in a small community, everybody has your back,” Ryan said.
Hughes said he had never planned an event like this weekend before. For him, it was a learning experience. Now, the committee has some experience, they hope to make Juniata Days better in the coming years.
“We know a few things now that could have made it run smoother but it’s all a learning curve. Especially when you don’t know how many people are going to show up,” Tricia said.
Overall, the event was a success. Hughes said that even though the planning and management was overwhelming, it was worth it.
“This morning, when we were picking up all the cattle pens downtown, so many people stopped and said, ‘That was awesome, thanks for doing what you did,’ “ Ryan said.
Ryan said they will be bringing back Juniata Days next year. Committee members haven’t decided what they will do differently yet and how they will do it, but they plan to improve on what they did this year.
“I think if we didn’t bring it back, we would look like a big bunch of fools,” Ryan said.
One of the challenges they faced was planning the time of the event in the summer, he said. In the surrounding area, there are other local events on most of the weekends in the summer.
Juniata Days even had a parade at the same time as the Adams County Fairfest parade on Saturday in Hastings. The Juniata Days parade had 50 entrants.
“I’m still trying to soak it all in that it went off this big the first year,” Ryan said.