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Jackwax Party

THURMAN Rex Reynolds II stood up from his seat at one of the three long tables Saturday in the town hall where dozens of people were eating home-cooked food and sharing conversations during the communitys annual Jackwax Party. About 200 people attended the event, savoring the annual celebration that heralds the coming of Spring and benefits cancer research. Reynolds gazed at the children, their fingers or forks stuck in the Jackwax, the sticky-sweet and fragrant traditional mountain-born confection of maple syrup-on-snow. A dozen women were behind the serving table, setting down one casserole after another as soon as another one was emptied by hungry diners. Beyond the home-cooked food and socializing, the event meant more a community coming together to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Rex Reynolds wife Jean organized the party for about 40 years, Reynolds said as he watched people eat and talk. A tireless worker year-round for the Jackwax fundraiser for four decades, Jean Reynolds died of cancer of the esophagus in July 2006. All this goes for a good cause, Rex Reynolds said. Theres a lot of cancer in Warren County nowadays. James Ligon and George Chonko were busy scooping out snow that had been gathered back in the sugar woods on Cheryl Kenyons Adirondack Gold Maple Farm. ?Keith Davidson, executive of the American Cancer Sociaetys area chapter, watched them work To me, this is a throwback to a different era, like a Norman Rockwell scene, he said. Its an incredible community feeling what they are doing here for our cause. Rev. Bob Herrmann of Thurman directed traffic in the dinners waiting line , while his wife Donna registered people at the front door. Wendy Davis wedged another casserole on the serving table, then smoothed her apron. Everybody in Thurman cooks up what theyre best at, she said. And its the best food youll ever have. Tina Parker stirred up the foaming maple syrup on the iron stove while Helen Baker shuttled more food from one counter to another. All year long, these two work on the Jackwax Party plans, just as Jean Reynolds did since the early 1960s or earlier. In prior years on the day of the Jackwax fest, Baker and Parker started the days work at 5 or 6 a.m. But not this year, Baker said. Weve got it down to a science, now, she said. Standing at the kitchen sink, Town Councilwoman Ruth Kellers hands were submerged in water. Her fire-engine-red nails had already survived three hours of dishwashing. This is what I get for being a public official, she laughed. At the other end of the Town Hall, Hoddy Ovitt of Lake George plucked on a banjo, leading his homegrown Warren County Ramblers band. The group includes John Mosher on guitar and Butch Ryan on Bass. Former Town Judge Norm Weller joined in on guitar for a couple of tunes. Rex Reynolds listened to the music and turned toward the three long tables, where every seat was filled. I hope this goes on for generations to come, he said. Folks attending annual Thurmans Jackwax Party Saturday choose spoonfuls of food from dozens of dishes cooked up by local residents for the benefit event. Photo by Thom Randall

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