The Utica Volunteer Fire Department and Auxiliary is proud to present a very special community event - Utica Homecoming Summer Fest 23
August 23, 24, 25, 26, 2023
The Utica Homecoming Summer Fest '23 Would Like To WELCOME Chicketti Family Amusements To Our Midway again This Year !!!

The Utica Homecoming Summer Fest 23 will have Amusement Rides, Lots of Great Fair Food, Food Trucks, Free Nightly Entertainment, 2 Parades, Arts & Crafts Vendors, Cruise-In and More.   Check Back to Our Website As We Add More Information

William "Ike" Earlewine and Gene Richards both played a tremendous role in shaping todays Utica Homecoming Fall Festival.  Bill as we affectionately called him was the longest serving General Chairman of the event. Chairing from 1952-1980 Bill made sure everything was just right and always put on a good event.  He was a tireless hard worker who served the community in various capacities including a firefighter, custodian at Utica Elementary, member of the Utica American Legion Post #92, serving many different roles there and worked and lived at the Johnstown Sportsman Club for a few years.   Bill passed away a few years back but his spirit lives on in many things around Utica and the surrounding area.    Gene Richards was the Fire Chief for the Utica Volunteer Fire Department for many years.  He served in many capacities in the department over the years including Captain, Assistant Chief and then Chief.  Along with being a Licking County Sheriff's Deputy and Utica Police Officer in his younger years he spent 44 years working at Flemings Dairy.  His tireless efforts over the years can still be seen today.  In 1988 when the Utica American Legion approached Gene about taking over sponsorship of the Utica Homecoming he jumped at the chance and brought it back to it's home of many years on Main Street.  He chaired the event from 1988 to 1994 .  Gene Passed away in 1996 and left a legacy of hard work and dedication. 

On behalf of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department I would like to WELCOME YOU!! to the Utica Homecoming Summer Fest '23. Wow 104 Years of Homecoming's stretching from 1914 to now with 6 gaps in between. We would like to take a moment and THANK everyone over the years for helping us in any way with the Homecoming for without YOU we could not have kept this tradition alive. True it gets tougher each and every year to produce an event but the dedication of the firefighters forge forward. I can not leave out the Officers of the Utica Police Department for they provide a great service to us not just during Homecoming but 365 days a year along with Utica EMS, our Utica Street and Water Department's and Village Administration. Come and visit with us during this time and see what our little town has to offer. Bring your friends and maybe make new friends. It has been a true honor and a privilege to have been the General Chairman for 22 years. I Personally want to THANK all of the members of the Fire Department for all of your help putting this event together. Last but not least I want to THANK my CO-Chairman Rob Curtis for your untiring effort in putting together one of the best car shows around. 2023 will be no exception. And his work securing advertising for the Homecoming tabloid. A special Thanks to Mark Jenkins and Firefighter Meredith Pierpont for your hard work in securing the food concessions and arts & crafts vendors and to Curt and Theresa Gannon for securing this years entertainment and to Farrah Cooperider for taking on the task of chairing the oldest Pet Parade in the United States. And I can not forget Kyle Greenwald for without him nobody would have any electric. Thank You All Again. Stay Healthy and Safe!!


Scott Gilbreath - General Chairman - Utica Homecoming

Gerald "Jerry" Paisola 1939 - 2017

Jerry Paisola was a long time Principal at Utica Elementary being so for 30 years. Jerry as we all called him "of course" when we were older was born in Bellaire, Ohio and grew up in St. Clairsville. He graduated from St. Clairsville High School in 1957. He went on to receive his BA from from Ohio University and his MA from West Virginia University. He taught at St. Clairsville Elementary School for six years before coming to Utica. Jerry was a well respected member of the community and will always be remembered for being a compassionate, loving, kind, honest, strong, devoted, loyal man with a great sense of humor. He cared for his students as if they were all his. Jerry spent many years organizing the Pet Parade each year and as with tradition he always had the help of his teachers. He was a good man and we think about him all the time and miss his smile. Jerry did make it back to the closing ceremony for the Spring and Mill Street Utica Elementary buildings in 2008.

Marietta VanFossen - 1922-2017

Mrs. VanFossen started her teaching career at Appleton, Ohio in 1942 after graduating from Utica High School in 1940. She graduated from Muskingum College Class of 1944 then went on to teach at Utica Elementary on Spring Street from 1967 to her retirement in 1984. Marietta was the Daughter of the founder of the Pet Parade Perry Adams. Mrs. VanFossen helped her Father in her earlier years with the Pet Parade and also while she was teaching, since the Pet Parade was put together right outside her window at Utica Elementary. Mrs. "Van" as she was called returned to the Utica Homecoming many times after retirement and presented the first ever "Perry Adams Memorial Award" to a Pet Parade participant back in the early 2000's. While she is no longer with us we think about her often.

William Perry Adams - 1898-1989

Perry Adams was a long time educator in the Utica School System and was Principal for many years. Perry founded the very first Pet Parade in the United States way back in 1930. The parade was put together on the grounds of the old Union School on Spring Street which later the old building being torn down and a new one erected being Utica Elementary. The Pet Parade is still put together in the very same place but now the grounds are owned by Utica Volunteer Fire Department and Utica EMS. Many of his same principals he set forth for the event are still used today. Perry always had the help of his teachers in organizing and carrying out the event. That principle was still used right up to the later 2000's. The Grand Marshal's are always someone who has retired from the North Fork School System. When the Fire Department started sponsorship of the Utica Homecoming in 1988 Perry was the Grand Marshal of the Pet Parade that year. Sadly he passed away awhile after that years event.

Robert "Bob" Martin - 1933-2018

Robert Martin was a long time member of the Utica American Legion Post #92 and Utica Sertoma. Back in 1981, 1982 and 1983 Bob was the General Chairman of the Utica Homecoming. Bob put on a fantastic show those years as people flocked to Utica for the yearly event to see 24 amusement rides packed into Downtown Utica by Jimmy Chanos Shows. In 1988 when the Fire Department started sponsoring the event and brought it back to Main Street from the Washington Street and the American Legion, Bob had his French Fry wagon there on the corner by the fire station. After his death in 2018 his Wife Becky and their Son Todd and Family still have it there to this day.

Sue Helphrey - 1935-2018

Sue was a long time member of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary along with her Husband Dan who was the Assistant Fire Chief for many years. Sue was a retired teacher from the North Fork Schools and Dan was retired from Utica High School as it's Guidance Department Supervisor after many years. Sue always had an encouraging word for everyone. I miss our talks we used to have.

Marlene Gilbreath - 1935-2013

"My Mother" was a member of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary from 1967 to 2013 when she passed away. Mom spent many days at the fire station over those years including a couple hour stint as a Dispatcher. She spent many days and nights over the years a few in the winter time taking refreshments to the firefighters during long fire fights. On a funny note, Mom never had a drivers license but I can remember as a young child when Dad was called out in the middle of the night for a fire call she would wake us kids up and pile us into the car. I can remember a couple nights out on Rt 541. Mom helped every year of the Homecoming with the other ladies with the Arts & Crafts exhibits at the Town Hall. I miss her a lot and wish she was still here.

Roger Buchanan - 1953-2018

Roger was a long time member of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department. A dedicated Firefighter who always went beyond the call of duty. Roger always helped with the Homecoming and always the car show. Roger was also a long time member of the Utica Area Jaycees.

Christine Ransom - 1953-2018

Christy as everyone knew her was my Sister. She spent a while as a member of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary. In 2017 when the Fire Department needed a replacement for the food service operation in the fire station during the Utica Homecoming she stepped up to the plate. She was very ill at the time but managed to plan and execute a very good food operation that year. Before the 2017 Homecoming was over she was planning on the 2018 event but passed away unexpectedly in March of 2018.

Phyliss Ann Hufford - 1930-2018

Phyliss along with her late Husband Ned came to Utica in 1959 from Upper Sandusky when they purchased the Ben Franklin store here from Dwight and Ethel Jewett. Ned passed away back in 1993 leaving Phyliss and Tonya, Brad and Barton to run the stores in Upper Sandusky, Johnstown and Utica. The oldest Daughter Tammy lives in Oregon. Ned and Phyliss always made sure the children of the area always had items to decorate a float or a bicycle for one of the parades at the Utica Homecoming. They both left a lasting legacy. When Phyliss was younger she worked for the J.J. Newberry Company in Tiffin. J.J. Newberry was a 925 store 5&10.

Mary Lou Smith - 1929-2018 - Robert L. Smith - 1930-2001

Mary Lou along with her Husband Robert Leroy Smith were long time directors of the Utica Homecoming. Both were members of the Fire Department, Utica Sertoma/LaSertoma and the Utica American Legion. Bob as we always called him built many of the downtown Christmas decorations back in the middle to late 1980's.

Jerry Lee Neighbarger - 1939 - 2017

Jerry was a long time entertainer at the Utica Homecoming Fall Festival with the Just Us Band. He will long be remembered for his smile and musical talent. He worked with the youth of Buckeye Lake as founder of "Jerry's Kids".

Harold Humberston - 1924-2015

Harold was our friend, our comrade, and our Fire Department Chaplain for many years.  He worked tirelessly to help make the Utica Volunteer Fire Department what it is today.  Here he is on the left enjoying visiting with the late Ed Casper and the late John Blackburn during the Utica Homecoming many years ago.  They were selling raffle tickets for the Utica V.F.W.  Harold was a member of the Fire Department for many years and we miss him very much.

Charles McCormick - 1941-2020

Chuck as we always called him was a long time businessman , and a great Meat Cutter in Utica owning The Village Meat Market back in the 1970's and co-owning Joann's House of Tanning.  Charles was also a member of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department for many years before retiring to Florida.

Bonnie Davis - 1943-2020

Bonnie was a 25 year member of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary and worked diligently to help where ever she could. Always a smile and she never met a stranger. When you walked into Huffords Ben Franklin or Lonsingers Pharmacy she always welcomed you with open arms. Her Husband Russell was Utica's Fire Chief for a few years and before that Assistant Chief and Captain.

In Loving Memory

Russell L. Davis - 1940-2014

Russ had a long 25 year run as a member of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department serving as a Firefighter, Captain and Assistant Chief under Fire Chief Gene Richards. Russ saw the department through in the six years after Chief Richards passed. Russell's favorite pastime was fishing at Knox Lake. Russell was also the second Homecoming General Chairman since the Fire Department took over sponsorship of the event in 1988.

In Loving Memory

Past Utica Homecoming Directors who helped with various aspects of the event and were intrumental in making it a great event.

David B. Melick - 1922-2001 - Mayor of Utica

Anne Cornwell - 1930-2004

Howard F. "Sonny" Stone -

Russell L. "Corky" Stone - 1932-2013

Tom Evans - 1959-2009

Frank Grennell - Don Edman - Stewart Anderson William Maginity - R.R. Brinkerhoff - A.A. Graves William Bain - Adrian Vance - Dwight Jewett Jack Spillman -

In Loving Memory

Lanah Richards

The year was 1958 and the Utica Volunteer Fire Department first organized the Ladies Auxiliary with a membership of 11. Lanah was it's Vice President. She became President a few years later and held that position for many years. She also worked hard to make sure the firefighters had what they needed especially on many cold winters nights at a fire scene. Her and the other ladies spent many a day and night on a fire scene. In 1988 when the fire department started sponsoring the Utica Homecoming she spearheaded getting the Home Trades Division returned to the town hall. She retired from the Auxiliary in 1994. Many of the students at Utica High School can remember her smiling face serving them their lunch everyday.

In Loving Memory

Bill and Betty Foster

The summer of 1985 was a hot one and one afternoon the Utica Volunteer Fire Department received a call of a missing toddler from Glen Road outside of Mt. Vernon. Our department was getting ready to leave to go search when Bill came into the firehouse and asked if we needed any help. Well the rest is history. Bill was a loyal and hardworking person and he dedicated his spare time helping the community. When Ye Olde Mill burned in 1986 Bill stayed on the fire scene for a week keeping the hot spots under control with a garden hose. Bill also rang the fire siren when we had a run. Bill was the type of person who could put a smile on the maddest person around. Betty was on the Ladies Auxiliary and she worked tirelessly for the betterment of the organization. At Homecoming time you could always find her at the Town Hall overseeing the Home Trades entries. She also was out helping to make sure the firefighters had something to eat and drink during long fire runs night and day. Bill and Betty's Daughter Claudine followed both of them into the Fire Department and was on the Auxiliary for a long time.

Leslie "Les" Beatty - 1934-2001 and Avanell Beatty - 1934-2016

Captain of the Utica Volunteer Fire Department and a long time director of the Utica Homecoming along with his wife Avanell who was a long time member of the Auxiliary. Both of them also owned the Spinning Wheel Antiques Shop in Utica for many years.

Remembering Troy Cannon who passed away earlier last year at the age of 49. Pictured here with his oldest daughter Samantha in a happier time. When i was still dispatching fire from the fire station before we moved operations to the Police Department a young man would visit the fire station on many occasions and we forged a friendship like no other. He always knew if he needed to talk to someone about something I was always there to listen and when one of my vehicles would break down he would always get me back on the road. Troy joined the Fire Department and remained a firefighter for a few years till he was so busy that he couldn't dedicate any more time to the department. It's so hard for me to believe he is gone. But he will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace my dear "Friend"

Check back as we add this years entertainment schedule

Check Back as we select the 2023 Utica Homecoming Royalty

From the Utica Herald files of August 10, 1914. The earliest Utica Homecoming on record was uncovered in 2017 by the late Paul Palumbo. Paul was the Chairman of the Utica Sertoma/LaSertoma Old Fashion Ice Cream Festival for many years and a local Historian. While researching old Utica Herald's he ran across an article in the July 20, 1939 edition. It said: Utica Herald Thursday August 10, 1914, "The Utica Homecoming as staged in 1914 was a "four-day revelry" said Editor Harris {Publisher and Owner of the Utica Herald back then} and one needed a guide book to find his way among all the tents, concessions, snake charmers, ect. The Homecoming feature was neglected but the carnival was big stuff it seems. Incidently we found out the Homecoming that year was held on August 6,7,8,9.

For only the 6th time in the Utica Homecoming's history has there not been an event. 1918 was the Spanish Flu was rampant in the Country, WWW II saw the Homecoming not having an event for three years, 2015 when circumstances beyond our control forced the cancellation nearly the last minute. And finally in 2020 one of the worst pandemics to hit the world happened and it forced every fair and festival to cancel or have limited events.

It's 2021 and the dreadful pandemic is still taking lives and making life miserable for everyone. At least life has returned to some normalcy and some of the fairs and festivals have occurred this year. The 102nd Utica Homecoming Fall Festival will be held on September 22-25th and some of the highlights will be of course the Grand Parade on Wednesday night at 6:30. The Pet Parade will kick off in its usual time slot of 11 am on Saturday. Entertainment choices this year include local Bryan Lewis, Rock This Way Band from Newark, Shok II Twenty Band, Matt Simmons Band New this year will be the Utica's Got Talent Contest along with the Fall Festival Homecoming Dash 5k. The McKean Community will be making "Ole so Delicious" Hot Fresh Donuts all 4 days at the fire station. Stop in and buy some. They are Great !!! . The annual cake and baked goods auction will kick off Saturday and all proceeds will benefit the All Volunteer Fire Department. Calling all Bakers. The annual Car Show will also be held on Saturday and will feature Cars, Trucks and Motorcycles along with many door prizes.

The 2022 Utica Homecoming comes with a new surname this year that being Summer Fest '22, due in part that the event will be held on August 24th through the 27th. The change was made so we could have a ride company this year. But keep in mind the very first Homecoming was held in August of 2014. Hey one good thing about it is we shouldn't have to worry about cold weather and snow but maybe hurricanes and rain. Anyway the 2022 edition brings back some of entertainment from previous years due to huge demand. There will be three parades scheduled this year. The Grand Parade on Wednesday evening, the School Royalty Parade on Thursday night and the Pet Parade on Saturday morning. New this year is an expanded array of food via food trucks. The McKean Organization is hoping to bring back the homemade donuts again this year along with maybe homemade chicken and noodles and shredded chicken sandwiches in the fire station along with a nice place to sit and relax and visit with your friends.



If you grew up in Utica or the surrounding area right up to December 31, 1998 you might have visited Ritchey's. This was the place to be for the great tasting food and hanging out with your friends.

Did you know that back in the late 1920's Utica had a Kroger Store. Yep, it was located in what is now the bar area of Nicks Pizza.