Sep 21, 2022
Sentinel photo by TOM LAUB
From left, Rotary President Jim Shilling, Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jenny Landis and past Rotary President Amanda Sechrist pose with Top Goose, the 2022 Goose Day pop culture display. Landis was guest speaker at Tuesday’s Rotary Club of Lewistown’s weekly meeting.
BURNHAM — Goose Day 2022 in Mifflin and Juniata counties is next week, and Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau executive director Jenny Landis presented a Goose Day update Tuesday at the weekly meeting of Rotary Club of Lewistown.
The opportunity, as legend goes, to eat goose and “never want for money all the year round,” is fast approaching. Goose Day events have been underway since the beginning of the month.
Landis, who has spent the past nine years with the visitors bureau, the last seven as executive director, said that while there are other annual events and festivals on the agenda, Goose Day has taken center stage.
“To many people, I’ve become the Goose Day lady,” Landis said. “I started at the visitors bureau in September of 2013 and right from the start Jim Tunall and I talked about how to revive Goose Day. He had been waiting for one group or agency to do something big enough to attract national attention.
“He wasn’t having much success with that, so we came up with a way that anyone that wanted to could help lift this local holiday up and, if you think about it, that’s the way a holiday works.”
Goose Day, also known as St. Michaelmas Day, began in the Juniata River Valley in the late 1700s by way of an early settler from England.
During Landis’ time as executive director, the holiday has grown each year with more events and a month-long celebration.
“We don’t consider Goose Day an event,” she said.
“It’s a holiday and everyone can celebrate it anyway they want to — as long as they do.”
While local restaurants add goose dinners to their menus, there are plenty of related activities, including the annual Goose Day 5k, a road rally, a pumpkin festival, a corn maze and dozens more. A complete listing of events can be found on the visitors bureau website at https://jrvvisitors.com/events/goose-day/the-list/.
The list continues to grow, thanks to Landis and her staff.
“The first year I worked on this, the list of activities was three pages long,” Landis said. “Using the slogan, ‘I believe in Goose Day,’ we told everyone that would listen our ideas of what the holiday could be if we all just contributed something. Fast forward to this year’s list, we published 18 pages of things to eat, drink, buy, make, see and do.”
Part of the success of Goose Day is spreading the word and getting more people involved. The other half of the equation is constantly looking ahead to make it bigger and better.
“My office that includes myself, Buffie Boyer and Jenna Stoner is always talking about new ideas,” Landis said.
Landis made three points that will direct visitors bureau efforts as the future unfolds. Adding more goose to Goose Day tops the list.
“In the future I’d like to see the activities and events that are happening become ‘goosier,’” she said. This holiday is about eating goose on Sept. 29 to secure your financial luck for the coming year.
“I’d like to see the Goose Day spirit last all year ’round,” Landis said. “I’d like to find out if Goose Day will stay in the hearts and minds of our residents longer than just 29 days in September. To this end, our office is talking about establishing a small line of Goose Day products that would be sold in a handful of retail locations. The idea is to see if Goose Day items will sell in March or June and not just in September.”
Educating young people about the area’s history and planting the seeds of pride is also a consideration.
“I’d like to see Goose Day become a topic in all of our classrooms,” Landis said. “Not just the legend of Goose Day but using it as a segue to talk about the good things in our towns. Get kids talking about what they like about their home.
“It’s that crucial positive spin that can come from our classrooms that could color a child’s perception about where they live and get them thinking about the world and the community they live in. Establishing pride of where you live should and can start early.”
New in 2022 is Top Goose, the pop culture photo opp for the year.
“That’s just one of the new things that’s happening for this year’s Goose Day celebration,” Landis said. “She’s been to the Maryland Welcome Center, the Mifflintown Market and will be at the historic courthouse for photos on the 29th. We’re always thinking of fun new ways to get the community involved.”
Goose Day in the Juniata River Valley always connects the past with the present. The importance is not lost on Landis as she continues to build the bridge from the past to the present and beyond.
“I remember Goose Day from the ’70s,” she said. “I imagine in those days, my predecessors talked about our local holiday as ‘a new revenue source’ and ‘the economic boost we need.’ Now it’s my turn — actually it’s our turn to look to this local tradition and mold it into something that is fun, memorable, lasting and rooted firmly enough to stand the test of time.”
For more information on Goose Day and to check for a complete list of activities and events, visit https://jrvvisitors.com/.
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