The Manley-Bohlayer farm was built in the 1860’s and holds within its walls and grounds a rich heritage of local agricultural history. The preservation of early farm life continues to develop through maintenance of the site and preservation of artifacts associated with local farm history. Along with preserving local history, Rekindle the Spirit, Inc. is proud to promote activities and classes in the arts for children and adults. As you walk through the pages of this site, you will see the spirit and the nature of the organization come to life. A visit to the History page will provide a window into the past to be preserved, a glimpse of the goals and dreams of the founders, and the basic cultural and agricultural foundation that has enriched our past. The Apple ‘n Cheese Festival site provides in-depth information on the Pennsylvania Apple & Cheese Festival; applications, the local handcrafters, featured agricultural products, area musicians and the fine arts and photography show that together provide a wonderful weekend in the country. The festival is held annually the first full weekend of October. The lovely heritage gardens surrounding the vintage 1870 farmhouse provide a memorable location for weddings, reunions and other large group functions. Visit our Rental page for specific information on renting the property. Events and activities can be found at the Events page throughout the year. Enjoy your journey with us as the pages of this web site grow.
As quoted from the History of Bradford County, © 1891 by H.B. Bradsby: Were there nothing here but the sweet farmland that it is – the wide smooth sweeping valley at your feet, the surrounding swelling hills and the afar, dreamy blue line of the Armenia, and the South Mountains over looking Canton, and the green velvet valley of the Towanda – it would be an enchanting place for the city visitor fleeing from the roar and dust and dirt of the city, to rest and renew life and vigor for the future. This description of the greater Canton area written in 1891 is as accurate today as it was when it was written.
History of Rekindle the Spirit
History of PA Apple & Cheese Festival and Rekindle the Spirit, Inc.
Rekindle the Spirit has been involved with the greater Canton community since its inception in 1991-1992 as a Main Street Program. Rekindle the Spirit, Inc. is the parent organization of the Pennsylvania Apple & Cheese Festival and the Historic Manley-Bohlayer Farm where the festival is held. The PA Apple & Cheese Festival is the largest event we provide, which maintains the organization and its property.
During Rekindle the Spirit’s early years many opportunities for promoting the area’s resources were developed to benefit the citizens of this small community. New industry was sought, downtown landscapes were improved, business fronts were updated, cultural events were held and promotion of many town-centered activities took place. Individuals, as well as organizations, were united in promoting the area. The origin of the Pennsylvania Apple & Cheese Festival was born from this group as they strived to meet the goals of Rekindle the Spirit. The goal of the Festival was to promote the diverse agricultural and cultural entities of the area. The first Festival was held in 1989 and was a big success for its developers. Much to the delight of the organizers, about 2000 people from around the area attended to enjoy the “fruits” of the local orchards and farms, and the merchandise of the many talented crafters, musicians, and artists. Each subsequent year the Festival continued to expand and draw more and more people to the area. It was at this time that Representative Matthew Baker assisted with designating the Festival as the official Pennsylvania Apple & Cheese Festival.
After funding for the Main Street Program ended, the PA Apple & Cheese Festival continued on its own in promoting the agricultural and cultural assets of the community.
By 1997 the PA Apple & Cheese Festival’s home on the Canton Firemen’s Field was facing a possible FEMA buyout due to flooding hazards. The Festival had also grown so much that it needed a new home. It was during this time that Rekindle the Spirit went into a lease to purchase agreement with Jeff and Angie Sechrist for 12.9 acres of the historic Manley-Bohlayer farm. September 30, 1998, Rekindle the Spirit chose to incorporate to a 501 (c) 3 organization, Rekindle the Spirit, Inc. The new non-profit organization shared some of the ideals of the original Rekindle the Spirit’s economic base but it had an expanded mission statement that included educational, historical and cultural goals.
The first year the Festival was held at the Manley-Bohlayer Farm project, 1999, saw attendance of nearly 20,000 people from all over the state of Pennsylvania and the Northeastern United States. The PA Apple & Cheese Festival has been able to maintain an attendance level of between 10,000 and 15,000 people.
Through the generous contributions of a private donor, a grant from the Endless Mountains Heritage Region and financial support from the PA Apple & Cheese Festival Committee, the Historic Manley-Bohlayer Farm is now owned by Rekindle the Spirit, Inc.
Rekindle the Spirit, Inc. continues to keep the spirit of community as a main part of its mission. Classes and demonstrations as well as events with historical and cultural backgrounds are organized and provided for the community. The South Meadow of the farm houses 2 historic buildings, the East Canton Community Hall and the Hoagland one room school along with working replicas of a blacksmith shop and cider mill.
The mission of Rekindle the Spirit, Inc. is to enhance the region by providing historical and cultural education projects, through the exchanging of ideas and inter-community activities, aiming to provide a legacy for generations to come.