RICHFORD — This past weekend was Richford’s annual Hometown Follies. It was held at the Richford Town Hall on Friday and Saturday, with residents offering up their talents to raise funds for Meals on Wheels and senior meals offered at the Crossing Restaurant.
The follies have been part of the fabric of the Richford community since at least the 1930s.
Stage Director, Marianne Hall, has been involved with the “ Follies” for 15 years. She is a retired English teacher, who grew up in Richford. “When I moved back to the area, I attended the Follies which at that time were held in May. Attendance had dropped throughout the years, so I tried moving the event from May to March, and it made a big difference in our numbers,” said Hall.
The Hometown Follies now raises between $1,500 and $2,000 each year. In addition to the show, there is a 50/50 raffle, and a teacup auction, with donated items courtesy of local area businesses.
“This is a community thing. No one has ever refused to help, when I have asked,” said Hall.
The show is presented two nights (Friday and Saturday). “It is not the same show from one night to the next,” said Hall. “Sometimes we have different songs, different performers, it depends on who is available on what evening. The chorus is always the same, though.” The chorus is comprised of about 18 community members ranging in age from eight to eighty.
The show attracts people from Burlington, Fairfield, St. Albans, and Canada. “We are internationally known,” boasted Hall.
The Hometown Follies has an enduring history in the life of Richford. “We have records from the Historical Society, and show programs that date back to the 30s,” Hall said. At that time the Richford elementary and high school students were heavily involved in the event. Monies raised early on benefited Richford schools. Sometime in the last 30 to 35 years the proceeds raised began to benefit local seniors instead of local schools.
However, as Saturday’s performance showed, children are still a big part of the Hometown Follies. Acts featured children singing, and playing a wide variety of instruments, such as the trumpet, flute, clarinet, and guitar.
Lynn Raymond is one the many people who have provided their time and talent to the follies. This year’s event was dedicated to Raymond, who taught band and chorus in Richford schools for 37 years. She has been an invaluable part of the Richford Hometown Follies for 30 years, acting as choral director. Raymond is retiring from teaching at the end of this school year. During Saturday evening’s performance, children dedicated a song to her, and presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
“Many performers have been part of this show for years and years,” Hall said. The duo of Chet Parsons and Sheila Trudeau are a perfect example.
Parsons and Trudeau have been performing together in the Follies for over 13 years. Saturday’s performance featured them as Gladys and Tyrone, based loosely on the characters from the comedy show Laugh- In.
The two performers have known each other since high school in the 1960s. Over the years, they’ve performed a number of roles together, including Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny, Jed and Granny Clampett, as well as the always popular Gladys and Tyrone.
Trudeau said, “We improvise a lot. We never know exactly what we are going to do until Friday afternoon before the show. It’s fun.”
Parsons agreed, saying, “It’s the annual make a fool of yourself and get away with it night.” They both agree that their comedy skits are a big hit.