MOORESBURG -- Van Wagner, the reigning Elk Toss champion, plans to defend his title in 2012.
There was some controversy over his title run last year, Wagner acknowledged, but he added: "I have the trophy in my barn. I'm heavily training and intend to keep the trophy where it belongs, especially in the 75th year. I did suffer an injury when I was training and need a lot of positive thoughts here."
The toss, which organizers always say is in its 75th year, is planned for Saturday.
This year, there will be opening ceremonies, a new feature for the Elk Toss. The opening events will include a ceremonial presentation of the elk, a ceremonial tapping of the first keg and a few surprises, said Karl Shellenberger, of State College, who serves with Wagner as co-president of the Danville German Society.
Wagner is host for the toss and other events at his home near Mooresburg.
Participants help raise funds for various charities. The toss attracts people from the region and from other states. Non-toss events will include a charity auction and winter festival.
Adults will be able to toss an "elk" while children can throw a "doe." The creatures are often made of cloth and wood.
Attendees are urged to wear lederhosen or a dirndl, a traditional dress of Alpine peasants, according to the society, which was founded to promote and celebrate Pennsylvania German culture.
Charities to benefit from the auction include The Gate House shelter for the homeless near Danville; Agape, which has been helping flood victims in Montour and Columbia counties; the Centre County Women's Resource Center, which assists survivors of sexual or domestic violence; Easter Seals of Central Pennsylvania, which provides services to more than 2,600 adults and children with physical disabilities and developmental delays; and Church World Service, of Lancaster, which serves refugee and immigrant communities in central Pennsylvania.
Since the toss has been a fundraising event for charities, contributions have been made to more than 30 organizations. More than $15,000 has been donated, Shellenberger said.
Those attending are asked to bring canned and nonperishable foods to be donated to the Danville-Riverside Food Bank. Anyone unable to get to the events can drop off food at Shiloh United Church of Christ, 500 Bloom St.
Festivities start with a scrapplefest at Pappas Restaurant at 8 a.m. followed by shopping for items for the charity auction at 9 a.m. at Danville's Salvation Army store. The group then heads to the Jerseytown Tavern for the Jerseytown burger eat-off at 10 a.m.
Opening ceremonies begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Wagner farm. Events and the auction are scheduled to start at noon.The Elk Toss is scheduled for 4 p.m., followed by more competitions.
The group expects to leave the farm at about 6 p.m. and head for downtown Danville.
A tour of Danville begins at 7 p.m., starting at The Pine Barn Inn. Entertainment will include Slimfit at 10 p.m. at The Pub II.
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