By Arvilla Pritchard
EAST OTTO - Members of the East Otto Preservation Supporters met recently to finalize plans for their annual town picnic.
The East Otto Preservation Supporters discuss their traditional school picnic on Sunday. From left, Rebecca Smith, Margaret Bowen, Bob Bowen, co-chairpersons, Jim Ellis and Cheryl Pauly, assistant co-chairperson Jean Jones, Donna Ebel, Aurilla Smith, and Steve Forster.
As in years past, the event will be held on the grounds of the former East Otto Union Free School. So as not to interfere with people's Fourth of July plans, the committee selected Sunday, July 15, as the ideal mid-month day for the festivities.
The day is being planned as a simple old-fashioned country get-together, with all the traditional entertainments, lots of childrens' games and a few things still in the planning stage. Free hot dogs will be furnished by the East Otto Town Board and there will be beverages, including lemonade, iced tea or water. All this will be completed with the strawberry - or whatever is in season - social, in which everyone gets to enjoy a cooling frozen treat.
Picnic goers will be able to tour the partially restored old school and view its many improvements.
In addition, the East Otto Historic Museum will be open to the public, according to Michelle Gogel, who has volunteered to staff it that day.
The 93-year-old wooden school building, now home to the East Otto town hall, is the preservation group's pride and joy.
With the help of restoration grants and a lot of local elbow grease, they first set to work refurbishing the classic exterior. Then they started restoring the abandoned classrooms to their former pristine beauty, including the now-gleaming tongue and groove floorboards. One of the completed rooms is currently used as the regular meeting-place of the town board; another houses gatherings of the preservation group.
East Otto is a truly unique little crossroads. Once a thriving community, its business district was decimated years ago by a raging fire.
However, the community continues to make itself home to a body of loyal residents, who, whether they live there full-time or not, support its endeavors and regard it with unfailing affection. The annual town picnics are attended by those who appreciate their true down-home warmth and flavor.