By LINDA M. LINONIS
Freewill offerings and donations underwrite the “Celebration for Epiphany: The Ceremony of the Boar’s Head and the Yule Log” at Orangeville United Methodist Church.
Gordon Vujevic, founding director, said those funds have kept the celebration afloat for 39 years. “It’s heartwarming,” he said about those who think enough of the event to support it financially.
Vujevic said the program began at his home church when a former pastor suggested sponsoring an Elizabethan festival or summer arts festival. The idea grew into the current celebration. “We got a $100 grant the first year from the Beeghly Fund,” Vujevic recalled. Most of that went toward buying fabric to make costumes.
Only a handful of the original costumes remain, he said, and they have nostalgia attached to them. “Some who made costumes are gone now,” he said. Costumes have been remade and replenished over the years.
Vujevic said he’s always been interested in music, so the celebration is a natural fit for him. He has a background as a liturgical musician and also worked for years at a costume company. Those experiences are valuable resources. Vujevic also participated from the 1970s to last year in the choir at St. John’s Episcopal, which sings at its Boar’s Head Festival.
Vujevic said he chose a date after St. John’s for Orangeville’s event because a few people are involved in both. For the most part, the two events attract audiences and participants from different geographic areas
Vujevic said he’s on the verge of seeing a third generation participate in the Boar’s Head event. “Some began as children and now are adults with their own children verging on grandchildren,” he said.
He said the cast of between 60 and 70 is drawn from the host church, Hartford United Methodist Church and Vernon UMC in Kinsman. Other participants come from Sharon, Pa., and Sharpsville, Pa. “It’s an ecumenical group,” the director said.
Though the event “is a lot of work,” Vujevic said, it is rewarding.
“It’s the weather that can do you in,” he said. Though a couple of events have played to small audiences, the presentation has gone on. The director said rescheduling is just too complicated.
On Jan. 12, the church will be decorated with live greens. On Jan. 13, show day, the cast will rehearse from 2:15 to 4:15 p.m. then present two services. “People come and enjoy the music and pageantry,” Vujevic said.