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Getting to know ... the Canal Days Toast Committee PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, June 16, 2013 11:33 PM


Staff Writer

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DELPHOS — The third weekend in September is a special time for Delphos, with the annual Canal Days Festival drawing area residents of all ages, with something for everyone. The Toast to the City takes place the Thursday before Canal Days weekend, an official kick-off for the festivities.

Delphos residents Sue Vonderwell and Gina Fritz are two of the women responsible for planning the toast.

“I’ve been a part of the committee since 2009. I work at First Financial Bank and was interested in community involvement, not only on a personal level but also a business level,” Vonderwell said. “When Diane Sterling asked me to join, I thought it might be a nice way to get involved and since all the other committee members were friends of mine, that made the decision even easier.”

“My husband Eric is one of the original four guys on the Core Committee who took over Canal Days planning quite a few years ago,” Fritz commented. “It was a rather small festival before they took over. Adding The Toast was a great idea and Diane approached us wives to help. I was there all weekend helping anyway, so I was thrilled to be a part of planning this event.”

Each of the nine women have their own tasks but on the whole, planning is a collaborative effort.

“I am in charge of ordering the wines and serving it as well as helping with all other aspects,” Fritz said. “We work extremely well as a group.”

“Our entire committee works together on all aspects,” Vonderwell added. “We’ve worked together for enough years that we have it down to a science. We each have our own forte so to speak, but we pretty much do whatever it takes to make this evening a great kick-off for Canal Days weekend.”

The theme for Canal Days 2013 is “Feel the Magic,” and The Toast ladies have booked Paul Krendl of Krendl and Company to be the entertainment.

“This year’s theme is all about magic,” Fritz said. “We are lucky to have a home-grown magician returning for the weekend to entertain us. We’re thrilled he agreed to come.”

Krendl will perform two 15-minute shows and an hour-and-a-half show.

With three months until Canal Days, Vonderwell says the committee doesn’t have everything planned out yet but some things are in the works.

“There will also be several local restaurants in attendance so guests can sample what our great city has to offer,” she said. “Along with wine samples, it is sure to be a great evening once again.”

Both women enjoy the time they spend helping to get Canal Days off to a great start.

“I honestly don’t have a favorite part of the Canal Days experience. It’s my favorite weekend of the year,” Fritz said. “Volunteering for Canal Days is highly satisfying. The hours my husband and the Core Committee puts in on a strictly volunteer basis is amazing. Many of us are small business owners, so any way to make Delphos thrive is important to us. We are all very proud of our small town and seeing all come together for a weekend of fun is awesome.”

“I really enjoy the camaraderie of the entire Canal Days staff,” Vonderwell said. “They have so much fun but they work hard at the same time. I also like that this gives me an opportunity to take a break from home, work, just normal everyday life. I get the satisfaction of a job well done. At the same time we are making money for our city and that’s what Canal Days is all about, our city.”

Besides Vonderwell and Fritz, members of the toast committee include Diane Sterling, Cathie Grothouse, Michelle Schafer, Barb Mesker, Amy Wehri, Jeanne Roehm and Donna Berger. The group is also responsible for the Basket Bingo, which takes place on the afternoon of Saturday, September 21.

“It’s our version of a purse bingo,” Vonderwell said. “Instead of winning a purse, you win a basket of prizes.”

Last year, some of the prizes handed out were a 42-inch television, a Sarka grill, jewelry packages, photo packages, wine cooler and a weekend getaway to Nashville, Tenn.

Vonderwell works part time at First Financial Bank. She and her husband Dave live in Delphos. They have six children.

After teaching high school for 25 years, Fritz now works for the family business, Delphos Ace Hardware, and is employed part-time by Harter & Schier Funeral Home. She and her husband live in Delphos and have three children.


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