Manchester Community Member Revived Manchester Old Timers Day

by | Feb 2024

STEP INTO the square on a particular day in October. The air is alive with the nostalgic hum of laughter and the unmistakable aroma of sizzling treats whirling through the breeze. The sun, casting a warm glow on the cobblestone paths, illuminates an assortment of colors. Bright banners flutter in the wind, each reflecting the richness and charm of Manchester’s history. The distant melody of live music, a harmonious blend of folk tunes and timeless classics, wraps around you like a familiar embrace. The chatter of the crowd, a symphony of joyous voices, rises and falls in rhythm with the beat of the event. Everywhere you look is a feast for the senses — children with cotton candy-stained smiles, elders sharing stories about the “Good Ole Days,” and couples twirling in spontaneous dances, their laughter echoing in the air. The unexplainable energy of Manchester Old Timers Day immerses you in a sensory banquet, each sight, sound, and scent joining together to create an experience that transcends the ordinary. It’s not just an event. It’s a journey through time and tradition, a celebration that speaks to the very soul of this quaint town.

There’s nothing like walking down the square and feeling like you’ve been instantly transported back to earlier years, when the Manchester community thrived on unity and values passed down through generations. This annual event brings people together to celebrate tradition and togetherness. Manchester Old Timers Day, a resurrection of a cherished local gathering, has demonstrated the outpouring of love, joy, and pride that can only be found within the spirit of a devoted community.

For Roger Steele, the chairman and organizer of the event, Old Timers Day is a labor of love and a commitment to preserving the essence of the town’s heritage. With passion and determination, he has spearheaded the revival of this cherished occasion, building stronger community bonds each year.

Steele reflected on his dedication to Old Timers Day and his deep roots in the community. Having lived in Manchester his entire life, his memory packed with fond memories of Old Timers Day events from times past, he extends his involvement beyond the event itself. 

“As a kid, I was always on the football team. We got to be in the parade, and we got to play all day long. You could stay there all day with a couple of dollars and have a great day.” 

The story of Old Timers Day’s revival began in 2011 when Steele, spurred by nostalgia and community engagement, initiated a Facebook group that quickly gained momentum. 

“In 2011, I started a Facebook group called ‘If you grew up in Manchester.’ That blew up, and now it has over 10,000 members,” Steele remarked.

The collective memories the group shared sparked a desire to resurrect the beloved event, which had been dormant since 2007. Undeterred by challenges, Steele approached the mayor and, with a dedicated team, breathed new life into Manchester Old Timers Day.

Old Timers Day has blossomed into a community-wide celebration with 128 vendors, from a modest beginning with 10 board members and 20 volunteers. However, Steele emphasized the importance of retaining the event’s intimate hometown feel, steering clear of corporate influences.

“We’re trying not to grow so big to where it’s a corporate thing. We don’t want that. We want to keep it a small, hometown kind of thing,” he said. 

Old Timers Day transcends the typical festival experience. The event’s ethos centers around inclusivity and respect, cultivating an environment where everyone, regardless of background or circumstance, is treated with equal warmth. 

“It doesn’t matter if you have no money or a million dollars. You’re going to be treated the same way,” he remarked.

Old Timers Day has evolved over the years, adapting to the times while preserving cherished traditions. The parade, complete with tractors, horses, and mules, remains a highlight, drawing thousands of spectators each year. 

For Steele and his dedicated and efficient team, including Rhonda Steele and Mary Todd, the event is not just a one-day affair — it’s a year-round commitment to fostering unity, creating memories, and preserving the values that make Manchester a truly special place.

“That’s one day we can come together. It doesn’t matter what your politics are. It doesn’t matter your race, it doesn’t matter how you grew up, if you’re rich or poor, everybody gets the same amount of respect. Everybody’s like family.” GN

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