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Many turned out for Teapot Day in Chester

Jul 04, 2023

Aug 14, 2023

CENTER OF ATTENTION — The 85-year-old World’s Largest Teapot in Chester was again the center of an annual festival that not only served to raise funds for its maintenance but also brought many people together for food, music and shopping. -- Warren Scott

CHESTER — Since it was built in 1938, the World’s Largest Teapot has been bringing people together and Saturday was no different, with many turning out for the eighth annual Teapot Day organized by volunteers who maintain the unique landmark near the intersection of state Route 2 and U.S. Route 30.

The yearly event is held to raise funds to keep up the structure, which recently received a fresh coat of paint through the efforts of volunteer Aaron Oates, noted Sue Hineman, who coordinates the event for the Chester Parks Board.

Hineman said some have noticed the knob of its “lid” has not been repainted, and that’s because a lift must be arranged to reach it.

The teapot stands 14 feet high and is 14 feet in diameter, wide enough for a handful of volunteers to sell hot dogs and other food from inside during the event.

It began as a giant wooden hogshead barrel used to advertise Hire’s Root Bear in Pennsylvania before it was moved by its builder, William “Babe” Devon, to Carolina Avenue, which is part of state Route 2 in Chester.

There it was covered in tin and a spout and handle were added. Initially a glass ball was added to replicate the knob of its “lid” but it was later replaced, first with a basketball painted gold and later, by the present plastic orb.

Originally red and white, it was repainted blue and white for a time, before returning to its original colors in the 1990s.

The ball also has changed hands over the years, with Devon selling it, after World War II, to Mary Wucherer and Rhelda Cain, who sold china and lawn and garden and novelty items there.

Hineman said she was among many teens who worked summers there, selling hot dogs for $1 and dusting the china, among other tasks.

By 1971 it had become the property of Cecil and Alice Fletcher, who sold pottery and other items there until 1984.

It sat vacant for several years afterward and when the land was obtained by C&P Telephone, it was donated to the city.

It had been faced with demolition until a group of residents, led by Geneva Hill, spoke up to save it. Councilwoman Anne Ford led efforts to raise $3,000 for its restoration.

With the renovations also came a new location, as the teapot was moved by crane and flatbed truck to its present site in 1990.

Since 2014, Hineman and others have raised funds and provided labor to keep it in shape.

The efforts have been supported by the Teapot Day, including the sale of commemorative Fiesta Christmas ornaments produced by Homer-Laughlin China Co., which donates half of them for the cause.

This year organizers also sold a small replica of the teapot created with a 3-D printer. Hineman said Saturday she had sold nearly all of the 100 she had ordered, but she plans to order another 60.

About 26 vendors set up booths near the teapot on Saturday.

In addition to tables filled with jewelry, kitchen towels and utensils and many other hand-made items, there was a table with copies of three books written by author Nancy Basile of Lancaster, Pa.

A native of New Manchester, Basile said she has based many of the locations in her mystery novels on places in Hancock County.

A full-time writer since 1999, she said she enjoyed reading Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie as a girl and “always wanted to write my own mysteries.”

Also on hand were members of the Chester Lions Club, who were selling popcorn, sno-cones and brooms.

Marshall Hobbs, the group’s vice president, said proceeds from it and other fundraisers allow the group to support projects at the local library and other causes.

“For anything like this, we like to set up so we’re out there and people know about us. We recruit a little, too,” he said, noting the club welcomes new members.

Performing the national anthem during the day’s opening ceremonies was singer-guitarist Jim Hallisey, who also warmed up the crowd for a handful of local bands he recruited for the event.

Among many attending Teapot Day were Gloria Garry Hubbard; her sister, Jerry Kontnier; and Kontnier’s daughter, Missy Smith.

“We come to this every year. We’re from Chester but live in Calcutta,” said Hubbard, who said she stays in touch with former classmates through a group that meets regularly for lunch.

“It’s a nice little event. I did some shopping,” said Smith, who added she also enjoyed seeing some old friends there.

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