Penryn prepares for annual mud sale

By on March 15, 2017

Penryn is preparing for its 12th annual mud sale. A partnership between Penryn Fire Department and the Limerock Parochial School, the event will be held rain or shine on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, at the Penryn Fire Department, 1441 N. Penryn Road, Manheim.

“The Fire Department and the Amish community work together on this event, and it really brings the entire community together,” said Tom Walsh, one of the organizers of the event.

It also extends beyond Penryn. Walsh said that on average there are 1,600 registered bidders and attendance ranges between 2,000 and 3,000. Using information provided on bidder registration forms, he estimates that nearly three-quarters of the bidders are from within a few miles of the firehouse. Others come from throughout the county and the surrounding region. Walsh pointed out that over the years people have attended from 14 different states as well as other countries.

“For the past few years, we’ve had a group of firefighters come from Long Island,” he said. “We’ve also had people attend from Canada and Australia. One year, we even had a tour bus show up with a group from Wisconsin — they had never experienced a mud sale before.”

They’re called “mud sales” because spring thaw often causes muddy conditions. However, over the past few years, the Penryn mud sale has run the gamut from spring like weather, snow, and yes, plenty of mud. This year’s sale takes place Friday and Saturday at the Penryn Fire Hall.

They’re called “mud sales” because spring thaw often causes muddy conditions. However, over the past few years, the Penryn mud sale has run the gamut from spring like weather, snow, and yes, plenty of mud. This year’s sale takes place Friday and Saturday at the Penryn Fire Hall.

Penryn’s mud sale kicks off Friday, March 17, with a preview from noon to 8 p.m. and a chicken barbecue beginning at noon. A drive-through will be available for barbecue take-out. Oyster and crab cake sandwiches will be available from 5 to 8 p.m. during the evening auction. Friday auction items include crafts, tools and grocery items. New this year are frozen grocery items, so Walsh urges bidders to be prepared with a cooler.

Since the first day of the auction is also St. Patrick’s Day, as a nod to the tradition of wearing green, Walsh will be wearing a sweatshirt he purchased during a trip to Ireland about two years ago.

Saturday’s auction kicks off at 8 a.m. Sale items include quilts, outdoor items such as sheds and furniture, crafts, antiques, shrubbery and flowers, lawn and garden equipment, farm-related wagon loads, new and used furniture, and produce. Walsh said that many of the items are on consignment, but others are donated by area businesses.

There’s also plenty of food, and it’s homemade He reported that on average 6,000 donuts are sold. Other taste-tempting food includes ice cream and apple dumplings.

“I had one person tell me they came from Maryland for the donuts,” he said with a smile.

The two-day event involves about 250 volunteers, and plenty of planning. About a week or two after the mud sale, the sale committee and the various members heading areas such as food and consignments meet to assess the event.

“We talk about what went well, what we could do differently,” Walsh explained. “It’s something that we routinely do in firefighting, and it sets the path for next year’s event.”

The group then reconvenes in December and the work begins in earnest. Walsh said that letters are sent to past consignors in January to ascertain their interest in the year’s event.

Although this is the 12th year for the mud sale, Penryn Fire Department has been involved in fundraisers for a number of years. Walsh recalled that at one time tobacco was grown in the field beside the firehouse. However part of that land was used for an expansion of the firehouse in the late 90s. Over the years the department also sold Christmas trees and homemade chicken corn soup. In 2004, there was discussion about hosting a lawn and garden sale.

But before plans were finalized, he related that the late Aquila Lantz approached the department and suggested doing a mud sale.

“We formed a group to investigate and invited Willie to attend. There was great support from the Amish community, so we formed a committee with equal representation from the fire department and the Amish community,” Walsh explained, “This really is a win-win for both partners, and for our community as a whole.”


Parking sites with shuttle busses to and from the auction will be available. Branch sites include: White Oak Church of the Brethren, 1211 N. Penryn Road; Jerusalem Church, 1620 Newport Road; and Manheim Brethren in Christ, 54 N. Penryn Road. Limited parking is also available at the Penryn Fire Company.

For more information about the Penryn mud sale visit or the fire department’s Facebook page.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at

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