April 24 • 10:55 AM

On the paths of powerful women

October 28, 2009
"That was the Oprah show," Maria says, turning her wheel-y chair toward my office.

"The Oprah Show?" I ask, brows furrowed. "What did they want?"

Maria grins. It seems they're doing a show about small town fall festivals, Maria explains. The caller—a woman named Kate—tells Maria she came across her front page photo of the Outhouse Races in Capac during the small town's recent Fall Fest. Sounds like a perfect fit.

This year's Capac Fall Fest is a first in a couple of ways: It's the first time the 'Capac Days' festival—which had for years been held in July—teamed up with Scholz's famous Auto Fest in September. It's also the first time in years—we're talking the '70s based on the photo we were given—since the Outhouse Races were held during the festival.

Of course, Maria, who is second-runner-up to the All-Things-Capac post, was there to capture the action with her camera. And she does such a good job of it that her photo simply has to go on the front page. Big. We make it a four column (there are only six columns across in the paper), and in living color it looks great.

Great enough to catch the attention of Kate at the Oprah Show.

"She wondered if we had any video of it," Maria says. "I told her we had photos, that's it."

Maria says Kate asked if any local television news stations covered the event. Once again, the answer is no. The Tri-City Times is the only news outlet that covered the Auto Fest and Fall Fest, and in so doing, catches the attention of Oprah who's looking to highlight unusual events in small town fall festivals. Outhouse races definitely fall into that category, I suppose. As people who cover events in small towns routinely, we know how unique it is. We like it. We're part of it.

"Wait til you tell Sally," I say. "Then the hurricane will really run through."

"Yeah," Kevin pipes in. "Next thing you know Sally'll have Oprah sponsoring the Outhouse races next year."

We chuckle. We're talking about Sally, our little bundle of energy. Our ad sales person extraordinaire, our number one All-Things-Capac resource. Anyone who knows Sally knows that the hurricane comment is meant in the fondest sense with the tenderest heart. When Sally tackles a project—whether it's with the Capac Chamber of Commerce, remodeling her home, or pounding the streets for our readers and advertisers, she does so with a relish. She's into it. One-hundred-percent. A force of nature, a little tornado of activity—all packed into a petite five-foot-tall frame.

When she hears that the Oprah Show took notice of the Capac Fall Fest she'll lose her mind! Capac's a town that Sally pushes for; a town that she cares about; promotes; believes in; refuses to give up on. Sally would love nothing better than to know the fall festival that she and a handful of other volunteers—and Carl Scholz—worked so hard on caught the eye of Oprah Show producers!

Sally and the members of the Capac Chamber of Commerce work their hearts out pretty much all year to put on a couple of events for the residents and the merchants. Along with the Fall Fest (formerly Capac Days), the Chamber hosts Santa, snacks, treats and hayrides around town every year, puts on a New Year's Eve party and more every year. They elicit the support of area businesses, who generously give whatever they can to the cause. The work is not easy, it's obviously a labor of love for Sally and the other volunteers. Lots of times I'm sure it seems thankless—no one seems to notice...except us...

...And Oprah.

We're excited that our stories have resonance. Who says nothing ever happens in a small town? In recent weeks it's been so much nothing that national media outlets have inquired about our pages...

...And even Oprah now knows about Capac...and Sally. Hope she's ready for it...

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