Volunteers at the William Walker Hose Co. are gearing up to host their annual Corn and Clam Slam, an event that many in the region look forward to as an occasion to reunite with friends and family for delicious food and loads of fun. This year the event will take place on July 12 to July 15, so folks will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the festivities. The event begins at 5 p.m. and ends at midnight each night, except Saturday, when things will wind down at 1 a.m.

The Corn and Clam Slam began as a small event, but it has grown quite a bit over the past 23 years. Many years ago, William Walker Hose Co. (WWHC) held an annual chicken BBQ that was very successful as a fund raiser. In the fall of 1994, WWHC officer Tom Jugan attended and enjoyed an all day clam bake event sponsored by another organization. He thought it would be a good idea for WWHC to organize this type of event.

After discussing it with Stan Hallowich, another WWHC officer, it was decided that the first Corn and Clam Slam would be held in the summer of 1995 as a “picnic” on the Saturday before the Sunday chicken BBQ. The plan was for the Corn and Clam Slam to be a small event, essentially just an add-on to the chicken BBQ.

The weekend events went rather well, so the following year a third night was added. Since the preparations and setup were already done, adding an additional night seemed logical. After two years of the three-night event, the hose company members realized that the Corn and Clam was becoming more successful than the chicken BBQ, so they decided to drop the Sunday chicken BBQ, and add Thursday night to the Corn and Clam Slam.

WWHC kept the Thursday to Saturday schedule for about a decade, then added Wednesday to give people an opportunity to attend should inclement weather keep attendance down for the three scheduled days. The Corn and Clam Slam currently remains a four-day event.

In 2015, Penn Valley Shows was contracted to add a carnival to the Corn and Clam Slam. The carnival features rides for both children and adults, numerous games, and food that is a good complement to the food traditionally served at the Slam. Penn Valley Shows was unable to schedule us for 2016, and unfortunately, the hose company was unable to find another carnival that was available. Members of the community quickly let WWHC know how disappointed they were with the absence of the carnival, so Karen Bowerman, public relations officer, worked diligently to find another carnival company and was able to sign a contract with Double M Amusements for the 2017 event.

Stan Hallowich and Tom Jugan, with help from committee member Paula Knutelski, have co-chaired the event every year since its inception in 1995. The success of the Corn and Clam Slam, however, ultimately lies in the long list of hose company member volunteers and community helpers. WWHC has approximately 35 active members, so they could not host this event without the numerous community members that volunteer their time every year.

One such helper is Tom Jugan’s mother, Mary, who is over 80 years old. Mary used to make fried dough for her church picnic, and started running the WWHC fried dough stand 19 years ago. Mary still shows up to help with the fried dough stand, and according to member WWHC members, “has become an inspiration to all of us.”

A spokesman for the fire company said, “We also appreciate the turnout of members from neighboring fire companies. We are always concerned that we won’t have enough manpower to run a successful event, but the people never let us down. Thankfully, they always show up. This area is filled with great people. If you come to the 2017 Corn and Clam Slam, take note of the spirit of volunteerism that is evident throughout the event.”

Slam organizers feel that great food and entertainment provide the foundation for a successful event, so they dish up homemade food at reasonable prices, always serving a generous portion so people are completely satisfied. On the menu for this year’s Corn and Clam Slam are corn and clams, of course, as well as a selection of delicious local favorites such as Philly cheese steaks, porketta sandwiches, pierogies, cabbage and noodles, and sausage and peppers. For the over-21 crowd, there is a bar featuring a variety of beverages.

Event organizers take pride in booking some of the most popular bands from northeastern Pennsylvania, receiving numerous email requests each year from bands who would love to play at the Slam. This year’s Slam will feature Blue Funk on Wednesday, Black Tie Stereo on Thursday, Flaxy Morgan on Friday, and The Jeffrey James Band on Saturday. This year, a new band, Harambe, will open for The Jeffrey James Band. The bands will begin playing at 7:30 p.m. each night, with Harambe opening for The Jeffrey James Band at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

On Saturday night, the annual fireman’s parade will take place at 7 p.m. The parade will begin at the T & R Service Station and will head north on Main St., turning east onto Poplar St. then left on Lackawanna Ave., left again on Walnut St., left again on Penn Ave., and will end at William Walker Hose Co., 803 Penn Ave.

Event organizers are grateful for the support of the community, both for the hiose company in general and for this event. They are also thankful for the cooperation of the Borough of Mayfield and for Chief Joe Perechinsky, who organizes security staff for the Slam, which over the course of four days may see more than 10,000 people in attendance.

For the latest information on the Corn and Clam Slam, visit www.cornnclamslam.com or find the event on Facebook at WWHC Corn and Clam Slam.