Thursday, August 14, 2014

Honoring authors Greg Peck and Earl Rhode Saturday Aug 16 in Portage

The 23rd Friendship Village celebration is Saturday.
The event celebrates Portage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning author Zona Gale (1874-1938), whose village was based on Portage and its residents. The event is held in August, the month of Gale’s birthday.
Jeff Grothman has acted as the program director of the event for the past five years.
This year, the event will honor two Wisconsin authors who have penned books on topics in the Portage area: Greg Peck, author of “Death Beyond the Willows,” about the young couple who perished in the pond at Pauquette Park on their wedding day in 1927, and Earl Rhode of Pardeeville, author of “The Little River That Could,” about the Fox River.
The event begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at at Gale’s gravesite in Silver Lake Cemetery on Cemetery Road just off West Wisconsin Street. Signs will indicate where to go for those who attend.
“The mayor (Bill Tierney) will be there to welcome people,” Grothman said.
Those attending the event should bring a lawn chair or blanket. Rhode’s and Peck’s books will be available. There will be music and a poetry reading by Randolph area artist Kelly Bleich.
“He always adds a little pizzazz to the program,” Grothman said.
And there will be awards given to “someone that’s given above and beyond (for) our Portage local history,” Grothman said.
The event was started in 1991 by Portage historian and enthusiast Blanche Murtagh, who died in June 2013. Murtagh was honored at last year’s event.
For the first time, the Museum at the Portage -- formerly Gale’s home -- will not be open for viewing during the day. The museum is still under repair after a fire in April.
The event will continue at 2 p.m. with a pie and ice cream social at the Women’s Civic League Clubhouse at 506 W. Edgewater St. The house was Zona Gale’s home from 1906 to 1928.
“That’s a nice afternoon. It’s right on the (Wisconsin) river,” said Grothman. “It’s an afternoon of peace and fellowship.

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