By Nadine Cafaro
Each year a small formed St. Patty Ramble committee nominates locals who are inspiring and best represent Montgomery and St. Patricks principles for grand marshal(s), and this year they decided four local farmers were best suited.
The four grand marshals are Frank Hoeffener, Gene Froehlich, John “Jack” Hoeffner and Phillie Hoeffner. They are representing their farming families and local farms in general as some of the original farmers in the area.
Hoeffner’s Farm was established in 1917 and was originally located where the Orange County Airport is, at 500 Dunn Rd. in Montgomery. 26 years later, the land was taken to be used as a training field for the Stewart Air Force Base. However in 1980, Frank Hoeffner purchased land at Goodwill Rd and they still farm there today. Frank Hoeffener was born in Goshen on September 23, 1943 and is a father of four as well as a grandfather to 11 grandchildren.
A Long Island-native, Gene Froehlich was born September 23, 1941 in Hicksville. In 1949, his family bought farmland on Albany Post Road and Gene Froehlich moved there himself in the late fifties. He began farming with his brother Edwin for years until he took over the farm himself in the 80’s, creating what Froehlich Farms is today. It is located at 2862 Albany Post Rd.
John “Jack” Hoeffner owns Hoeffner Farms and lives on Goodwill Road. He is a proud farmer and lifetime Montgomery resident who often travels to New York City to sell produce. Although Jack’s daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren run the farm currently, it wasn’t until recently, since Jack and his nephew, Philly Hoeffner ran it for years.
Philly Hoeffner ‘s first time at the farm was when he was just a newborn to visit his grandparents. He enjoyed working there with my father and his two brothers, who he mentioned taught him how to grow food and feed people. He also helped sell produce in New York City and various Orange County areas. “I gained many friends and loyal customers throughout the years that appreciated all the long hours and hardships that I endured growing the best produce that I could. I apologize to all the drivers who got a car wash from the irrigation wheels during the drought years,” Philly Hoeffner stated.
The Hoeffner family are cousins to the Froehlich family and are considered to kickstart the farming community in Montgomery.
The St. Patty’s Ramble is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year.
The actual parade day includes a Kids Fun Run that starts at 9:45 a.m. and a “Run for the Gold” 5k walk/run which begins at 10 a.m. The parade begins at 1 p.m. on Union Street.
Since the spring of 2018, the event has also put together a yearly $1,500 scholarship fund that is awarded to two graduating senior athletes, one male, one female, who are involved in the community.
More information can be found at their stpatsramblemontgomeryny.com.