Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Queen Pageant Signals Start of 2015 Celebration

The Pro Football Hall of Fame and the annual Enshrinement Festival will be celebrating 52 years of excellence in 2015, with the first event being the Queen Pageant on May 7.  Applications and tickets will be available at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Enshrinement Festival department, 222 Market Ave. N., in downtown Canton, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Monday, Feb. 9.

In addition, applications are available on-line at The deadline to submit the application and a $70 fee is Monday, March 9, by 5 p.m. Candidates cannot be younger than a high school senior and 18 years old by May 1 or more than 23 years of age before Sept. 1. Candidates must reside and, if employed, work within a 30-mile radius of Stark County.

While not mandatory, all potential candidates are invited and encouraged to attend the fifth annual “Screen the Queen Pageant” session which will take place Saturday, Feb. 21 at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce from 9 to 11 a.m. This session will help young ladies decide if they would like to enter the Pageant, and to give them a better idea of what to expect if they do. Participants will have the opportunity to review the 2014 Queen Pageant DVD, learn about the judging experience from past years’ judges, hear from a past queen who will share her memories, and ask questions about the process. This informative, casual session is FREE, but reservations must be made in advance by calling Kathy Lindenberger at (330) 458-2056 or e-mailing her at:

The Queen Pageant on Thursday, May 7 will begin at 7 p.m. at The Canton Palace Theatre. All seats are reserved at $20 each, and tickets can be purchased at the Canton Regional Chamber, and online at

At the conclusion of the Pageant, a Queen and five court members will have been selected on the basis of personality, poise, beauty, communication skills, academic achievement and service to community.  The Queen and her court will serve as role models and goodwill ambassadors throughout the community.

For more information regarding applications, tickets or sponsorship opportunities, contact Kathy Linderberger at (330) 458-2056 or visit the Enshrinement Festival Web site at

Enshrinement Festival Wins IFEA Pinnacle Award

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival was recently recognized by the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) with a prestigious Gold Pinnacle Award for “Best Event Video” in the category of events with budgets over $1.5 million.

Awards were presented in 68 different categories at the 2014 IFEA/Haas & Wilkerson Pinnacle Awards on September 29, 2014, during the IFEA/Haas & Wilkerson Pinnacle Awards Ceremony held at the IFEA’s 59th Annual Convention & Expo in Kansas City, Missouri.

Joanne Murray, director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, expressed appreciation to Larry Schock and Zachary Piette of PYEcom Home Video, who developed the event video from hundreds of hours of footage shot by the PYEcom team.  PYEcom and the Enshrinement Festival have won Gold every year since 2006 except one, when they came in with a Silver behind the Kentucky Derby.  Annual Enshrinement Festival overview DVDs are available for purchase at $24.95 each, plus shipping, by calling Chris Gumpp at 330.458.2055 or e-mailing
The professional competition drew entries from among the world’s top festivals and events. Winning entries came from organizations as diverse as Bumbershoot in Seattle, Washington; Boulevardia in Kansas City, MO; Denver Comic Con in Denver, CO; Philadelphia Flower Show in Philadelphia, PA; Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival in Temecula, CA; National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC, and Luminato Festival in Toronto, ON, Canada.International contenders included such diverse event organizations as the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands; Misteria Paschalia Festival in Krakow, Poland; Hero Insolito in New Delhi, India; World Gourmet Summit, Singapore; Festival Lent, Maribor, Slovenia and the Seoul Cartoon & Animation Festival in Seoul, South Korea.
“The IFEA/Haas & Wilkerson Pinnacle Awards Competition recognizes the outstanding accomplishments and top quality creative, promotional, operational and community outreach programs and materials produced by festivals and events around the world,” stated IFEA President & CEO, Steven Wood Schmader. “Striving for the highest degree of excellence in festival and event promotions and operations in every budget level and every corner of the globe, this competition has not only raised the standards and quality of the festivals and events industry to new levels, but also shows how event producers can use innovation and creativity to achieve a higher level of success.”For a complete list of winners and more information on the IFEA, go to

Conde, Ruda Named to Leadership Roles for the 2015 Enshrinement Festival

The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Pro Football Hall of Fame have named two long-time community volunteers to leadership positions for the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.

Chip Conde, Stark County Property Tax Supervisor and long-time Enshrinement Festival volunteer, will serve as general vice chairman of the Enshrinement Festival activities planned by the Enshrinement Festival department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce. And for the fifth consecutive year, Guy Ruda, sales associate for R. Z. Marketing Group, will serve as general vice chairman of the Enshrinement Festival activities planned by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

CondeConde, a graduate of Canton Lincoln High School and the former Mount Union College (now University), has chaired many Enshrinement Festival committees including Enshrinees GameDay Roundtable, Concert & Fireworks, and Drum Corps International, and he continues to serve as a member of each of those committees, as well as the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner Committee. In 2013, he served as co-chair of the 50th Anniversary Community Celebration Day at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He and wife Kathy are strong supporters of the Canton Palace Theatre, including his tenure as a former Board member and current Capital Campaign Chairman. He is a Board member and treasurer of the Friends of the Children’s Network, member of the Canton Lincoln High Alumni Association, and member of the Spanish-American Center.

RudaDuring the 2014 Enshrinement Festival, while serving in the leadership role as general vice chairman, Ruda also completed his 14th year as chairman of the Enshrinement Committee. He will continue to lend his expertise and extraordinary work ethic by serving in that dual capacity again in 2015. He previously served 18 years as a member of the Enshrinement Committee, as well as three years as chairman of the former NFL Experience Committee. An effective mentor, he provides leadership to his volunteer team by adhering to a favorite motto, “People never improve unless they look to some standard or example higher and better than themselves.” Ruda and his wife Gail are the proud parents of David and Danielle.

Enshrinement Festival General Chairman Alumni Association Holds Annual Dinner

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival General Chairman Alumni Association held its annual dinner on September 17. The event was emceed by Barbara Hammontree Bennett, current association president and 2009 general chairman. Members offer assistance to the Enshrinement Festival in the areas of sponsor recognition, promoting community awareness and support in planning and producing the annual festivities.

The Association was formed in 1993 and has been comprised of general chairmen of the committees under the auspices of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Pro Football Hall of Fame since the inception of the Enshrinement Festival in 1963.

At the annual dinner, Barbara Hammontree Bennett, presented an Award of Merit to Diebold, Inc. in grateful recognition of their long-time outstanding and generous support of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival. She noted that Diebold, Inc. has been an important partner to the Enshrinement Festival since the beginning 51 years ago, including as an annual ticket holder, supporter of the cash sponsorship campaign, and encouraging their employees to volunteer for the Enshrinement Festival. Such continuous support has been critical to the Enshrinement Festival’s success. The award was accepted on behalf of Diebold by Chris Chapman, Sr. Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and John Kristoff, Vice President and Chief Communications Officer.

A second Award of Merit was presented to Stephen A. Perry, by Thomas W. Schervish, 1986 General Chairman and immediate past president of the Board of Directors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Perry was recognized for his service as the fifth President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, serving from 206 through his retirement in early 2014.  During his tenure, the Hall realized great success, including the celebration of its 50th anniversary and the completion of a $27 million renovation and expansion project. Steve also served as the 1999 General Chairman of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, and he had an extensive career in management of large private sector and public sector organizations. Most recently, he served in the Federal government as the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in Washington, D.C. Perry was a former member of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors (1993-2001) and has been an active volunteer in numerous professional and community organizations.

Another tradition at the annual dinner is the initiation into the association of the most recent General Chairman. The ceremonial green jacket was presented by 2013 general chairman Joe Halter to 2014 general chairman Vicky Sterling, who joins 46 other women and men who have held this prestigious position over the years. She was commended for her extraordinary leadership and dedication to the enhancement and growth of the Enshrinement Festival.

She was especially recognized for her unmatched hands-on role in supporting all of the Enshrinement Festival committees, and was celebrated for her internal theme, “Smile, It’s Contagious – Let’s Start An Epidemic!”  In 2015, Sterling will continue to serve the Enshrinement Festival as chairman of the Steering Committee.


While nearly 25,000 men have played in at least one National Football League game, there are only 287 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; this number will be increased by not more than eight when the Class of 2015 is announced January 31 during Super Bowl weekend.  The central focus and highlight of the festivities will be the induction ceremony for the Class of 2015 Enshrinees at Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium.

More than nine million fans have visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame since it first opened its doors on September 7, 1963, and the first Enshrinement Festival events were held that year.  In the last 51 years, the Hall has expanded from its original 19,000 square feet to 118,000 square feet following the 2014 conclusion of its $27 million “Future 50” Expansion and Renovation Project. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit educational institution that focuses on education, promoting, preserving, and honoring the great individuals and moments that have shaped the sport’s history, with an emphasis on “Celebrating Excellence Everywhere!” 

Likewise, the annual Enshrinement Festival has expanded from its original four small events to 23 diverse events over a two and a half week period, enjoyed by nearly 700,000 people and producing an economic impact of over $32 million for the Canton/Stark County area and nearly $56 million for the State of Ohio. In addition, millions of people experience aspects of the Enshrinement Festival as events are televised and covered by other media. With a record of success for the past 51 years, the Enshrinement Festival has earned its reputation as “A One of a Kind Celebration!”

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For information contact: Joanne K. Murray, Director

Phone: (330) 458-2050 |

Enshrinement Festival Announces 2015 General Chairs

The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Pro Football Hall of Fame have named two long-time community volunteers to leadership positions for the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival. The world-renowned festival will celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the annual enshrinement of football players, coaches, and contributors into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in the annual “One of a Kind Celebration!”

George LemonGeorge Lemon, a retired business leader and long-time community activist recognized for his ability to get things done and bring people together for positive change, will serve as general chairman of the Enshrinement Festival activities planned by the Enshrinement Festival department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.  For the fifth consecutive year, Robert J. McFarlane, director of the outdoor division for Bruce Foods Corporation of New Iberia, LA, will serve as general chairman of the Enshrinement Festival activities planned by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

With the 2014 Enshrinement Festival just a few weeks behind them, strategic planning for the 2015 Enshrinement Festival is already well underway. The collaborative efforts of this leadership team, combined with the professional staffs at the Canton Regional Chamber and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the dedicated team of more than 4,200 extraordinary community volunteers, will ensure the success of this special celebration. The 2015 Enshrinement Festival dates will not be confirmed until after the NFL confirms the date for the NFL/Hall of Fame Game, so information will be posted on the web site as soon as available:

Lemon will lead the chairmen of 26 Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce committees, who hold in excess of 350 meetings throughout the year, to attend to the massive details of planning and staging several Enshrinement Festival events.  He is well-known for his reputation for getting involved, getting things done, and bringing people together for positive change.

His strong leadership skills led to a 23-year career in the U.S. Army and National Guard.  As a Commissioned Armor Officer and Helicopter Pilot, he commanded numerous Army units including a Helicopter Group located at the Akron Canton Airport.  He retired from Military service as a Senior Aviator and Intelligence Officer at the rank of Major.  He was employed at AMETEK for 25 years, a Fortune 500 company, where he held a variety of positions, including Vice President of Marketing and Sales. He founded Technical Products Group, Inc., and led this very successful business as its president until his retirement in 2007.

Lemon served on United Way’s Board of Directors, and in 2005, he received the United Way of Stark County’s prestigious “Gold Key Award” for outstanding community service. His active membership in the Canton Museum of Art was instrumental in bringing the first two nationally-known African artists, Bing Davis and Dean Mitchell, exhibits to Canton Museum of Art and Stark County Schools. As the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Goodwill Industries, he was instrumental in leading the initiative to bring the $5-plus million dollar community campus at Goodwill to Canton, Ohio. He is a past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

He is a member of the Aultman Health Foundation and Aultman Dunlap Hospital Board of Directors and is current President of the Aultman Foundation.  He serves as the President of the Stark State College Foundation Board, and Stark State College honored him as “Alumnus of the Year” at their commencement ceremonies in 2003. In May of 2010, he was presented with the Ohio Association of Community Colleges’ Distinguished Alumnus Award which highlighted his contributions toward the improvement of the community, professional achievement, volunteer service, participation in public service organizations, and involvement in civic functions. George and his wife Kaleen reside in Jackson Township, have four children and thirteen grandchildren.

Bob McFarlaneMcFarlane will lead the chairmen of 11 Pro Football Hall of Fame committees in planning and implementing other Enshrinement Festival events, including the central focus of the entire festival, the Enshrinement Ceremony itself, as well as the NFL/Hall of Fame Game and the First Play event. McFarlane also will lead the support committees that assist the Pro Football Hall of Fame in providing hospitality to the Class of 2015 Enshrinees, the returning Hall of Famers and their families. He is a 25-year veteran of the Hall of Fame Hospitality Committee, having served as chairman for 11 years.

In addition to his volunteer work with the Hall of Fame committee, McFarlane is past-chairman of the Enshrinement Festival Balloon Classic Invitational Committee, past-president of Wishes Can Happen, Inc., co-founder and past-president of Jackson Township Jaycees, JCI Senator and Ambassador, included in Outstanding Young Men of America, and retired football official after 26 years. He has been very involved in Jackson Township where he resides and has served as a volunteer fireman and was involved in the early formation of the Jackson Township Police Department. He is a graduate of Capital University with a Bachelor’s degree in management. He and wife Sharon are proud of daughter Kelly and son-in-law Scott.

Enshrinement Festival Announces 2014 Emcees

StefaniThe Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival is pleased to announce emcees for the Fashion Show Luncheon on Friday, August 1, and TimkenSteel Grand Parade on Saturday, August 2. Stefani Schaefer, co-anchor of Fox 8 News in the Morning, will emcee this year’s Fashion Show Luncheon on Friday, August 1, and it promises to be a high energy production. An Alliance native, she is a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School and University of Mount Union where she was an All-American Scholar and a National Collegiate Academic Honoree. While in high school, she was a featured vocalist for the Enshrinement ceremonies and she has sung the National Anthem for the Game, so she truly has a soft spot in her heart for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

She first started at WJW Fox 8 in Cleveland in 1992, then took a hiatus to pursue other opportunities including hosting a national network show broadcast out of Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. In 2007, she returned to WJW Fox 8, and in 2008, she was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame. In 2012, she was named Cleveland’s Favorite News Anchor and Favorite News Team.

Football and fashion might seem like an unlikely mix, but it’s a perfect fit for the nearly 3,200 guests who enjoy the event that includes state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and video to showcase male and female models featuring the season’s hottest fashions.  An exclusive bridal scene will be a new element in this year’s show, and all the fashions will be enhanced by the excitement of several performances by Jeff Timmons of 98º.  Great tickets are still available by calling the Chamber at (330) 458-2048.
Dan Dierdorf
Early the next morning on Saturday, August 2, Schaefer will join Dan Dierdorf as co-commentators for the TimkenSteel Grand Parade.  Stefani and Dan teamed up as co-commentators  in 1999 and 2000, then again last year.  A Canton native and 1996 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dierdorf will bring his extensive knowledge of the game to the parade broadcast for the 16th consecutive year.  After an illustrious career with the St. Louis Cardinals, he transitioned to the broadcast booth, most notably at ABC with the Monday Night Football team with Al Michaels and Frank Gifford. After 12 years, he moved to CBS where he stayed until his retirement after the 2013 season, and in April 2014, he was introduced as the new color analyst for the football radio broadcasts at his alma mater, the Michigan Wolverines. Dierdorf was the 2008 recipient of the prestigious Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Joe DunnJoe Dunn will be joining the team for the second consecutive year as man-on-the-street for interviews with the Class of 2014 and many returning Hall of Famers.  After a stint with the Canton/Stark County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, he became Director of Sports Marketing at the University of Akron and is currently Vice President of Sales at Big Time Sports, a regional company producing sports talk shows and featuring high school sports coverage.

Parade units step off at Sixth St. and Cleveland Ave. SW and move north to 25th St. NW, where they will begin to disband. For Enshrinement Festival and football fans wanting to enjoy the parade, great reserved chair and bleacher seats are still available for only $9 by calling the Chamber at (330) 458-2088 or stopping in at 222 Market Ave. N from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays. Spectators will be required to show their tickets before being permitted to sit in reserved areas, and this will be strictly enforced.

Enshrinement Festival Announces 2014 Key Chairs: Pigskin Run • Concert and Fireworks • Enshrinement • Fan Parties

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have named the following key committee chairs: Cathy Wyatt, Pigskin Run; Mike King, Concert and Fireworks; Guy Ruda, Enshrinement; and Gina Bannevich, Fan Parties.

WyattWyatt is a graduate of Lake High School and attended Kent State University.  She is owner/operator of two Carpe Diem Coffee Shops and is President of the Palace Theatre Board.  A Leadership Stark County graduate, she serves on the Stark Community Services Women’s Impact Board and the Canton Development Partnership Board of Architectural Review.  She has been a member of the Pigskin Run committee for five years, and this is her first as chairman.  She and husband Patrick have one daughter and one son.

Vice chairman Susan Bodnar is assisting Wyatt and working closely with the committee to make some great adjustments to this year’s event.  The courses will be slightly revised and recertified in order to accommodate both the start and finish on the campus of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, providing fantastic photo opportunities.

Formerly known as the 2-Mile and 5-Mile Races, the Pigskin Run race distances will remain the same.  Both serious and recreational runners are welcome to participate in the 2-Mile run, 5-Mile run, or 5-Mile Competitive Walk divisions.  Race day registration will be available, but at an increased cost, so participants are encouraged to register now and save at  Cash and/or other prizes will be awarded to top finishers in the three categories.  Kids six and under are encouraged to participate in the free Kids Fun Run which kicks off the morning’s festivities at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In celebration of the name change, a Pigskin Run “High School Pride Award” is being launched.  When registering for the Pigskin Run, registrants will have the opportunity to cast their vote for the name of the high school they proudly support.  The high school garnering the most support will receive a traveling award that they get to keep until the 2015 winner is declared.

KingKing, of King Properties, is a graduate of Hoover High School and attended Kent State University. After serving on the Concert and Fireworks committee for 10 years, this is his second as chairman.  Very active in downtown development, he is the recipient of the ArtsinStark Turning Point Award for the Canton Arts District, and five Downtown Canton Special Improvement Awards for downtown developments. He is past chairman and current vice chairman of the Downtown Canton Special Improvement District and has served on numerous downtown and housing boards and committees. He is a founding member and past president of the Stark County Real Estate Investors Association as well as a member of the Lake Cable Recreation Association. He and wife Mary Ellen are parents to two daughters and two step-daughters.

King, vice chairman Jeff Burner, and their team will be attending to the many details involved with this event on the evening of Saturday, July 26. A variety of activities are planned at the Cornerstone Square area in the vicinity of Tuscarawas Street and Walnut Avenue and will begin at 6 p.m. with food and family fun, including face painting, balloon artists, costumed characters and crafts for the kids in the Chesapeake Energy Family Fun Zone.  Musical entertainment will include Jimmy and the Soul Blazers, and the festivities will conclude with an incredible pyrotechnic display launched from the Cornerstone Square parking deck approximately 10 p.m. – featuring the magic of Zambelli, “the First Family of Fireworks!”

RudaRuda, a sales associate for R. Z. Marketing Group, is serving his 14th year as chairman of the Enshrinement Ceremony Committee. He previously served 18 years as a member of the committee, as well as three years as chairman of the former NFL Experience Committee. Ruda and his wife Gail are the proud parents of David and Danielle.

Ruda and his team of volunteers prepare the facilities and programming for staging, seating and logistics of the Enshrinement Ceremony program.  Assisting him will be co-vice chairmen Terry Coyne for planning and Dave McRoberts for facilities. The Enshrinement Ceremony for the Class of 2014 football greats will be held Saturday, Aug. 2, at 7 p.m. at Fawcett Stadium. The stellar Class of Enshrinees includes linebacker Derrick Brooks, punter Ray Guy, defensive end Claude Humphrey, tackle Walter Jones, wide receiver Andre Reed, defensive end Michael Strahan, and cornerback/safety Aeneas Williams.

BannevichBannevich graduated from Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School and University of Mount Union and completed coursework at the Corporate University at Kent State University.  She is currently marketing director at Belden Village Mall. A member of the Fan Appreciation Tailgate Party committee since 2002, this is her third year as chairman. Her community volunteer includes The Golden Key for Exceptional Children, Greater Northeast Ohio ALS Walk Group and chapter volunteer, and a member of International Council of Shopping Centers.  She and husband Jason have a son and a daughter.

There are five fantastic fan parties that are held on Hall of Fame grounds. Friday, fans from across the nation will enjoy an exclusive event prior to the Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Ceremony. Following a reception guests will have exclusive after-hours access to the museum and view the Gold Jacket Ceremony via a broadcast.

New this year will be the Legends Club VIP Enshrinement Tailgate Party that will be on both Saturday and Sunday and will include four Pro Football Hall of Famers — the party of a lifetime for the game’s most elite fans to enjoy.

Also this year the traditional Fan Appreciation Parties will be a great opportunity for football fans from all across the nation to get ready for The Enshrinement Ceremony and the big game featuring the Buffalo Bills vs. New York Giants. Saturday and Sunday Fan Parties always include great food and refreshing beverages in typical tailgate fashion as a deejay plays party music.

Bannevich is assisted by Valerie Nash.