Fostoria natives, snow birds and vacationers from Fostoria gather at the Moose Lodge in Bradenton, Florida, for the annual Fostoria Day celebration in this 2017 photo. Sixty-seven reservations have been made for the 58th annual celebration scheduled for today in Bradenton. (Photo provided)


Fifty-eight years ago, two strangers found themselves sitting on the same bench in Florida.

Frank Kinker and E.J. Haldeman were having a casual conversation, as strangers often do, when one asked the other where they were from.

“Fostoria, Ohio,” was the answer, to which the other responded that he, too, was from Fostoria.

A friendship blossomed and both men promised to meet again in Florida on the first Saturday in February, bringing a friend.

And now, more than half a century later, the tradition continues.

Tom Lehmann from Fostoria High School’s class of 1976 is the host of the event, having taken the reins last year from Fostoria residents Rick and Karen Hoffman, who organized the event for nearly a decade.

According to Lehmann, 67 reservations have been made to attend the event Saturday at Moose Lodge 1223 in Bradenton, Florida.

Social hour begins at 11 a.m. followed by lunch, which includes roasted chicken or sliced roast beef, roasted redskin potatoes, California blend vegetable medley, tossed salad, rolls, coffee, tea and water. A Fostoria Day committee will provide pies and other desserts.

Lehmann said some plan the event as a class get-together as the classes of ’64, ’65 and ’66 tend to sit together and have a mini-reunion.

There will be door prizes and a 50/50 drawing, he said, but the real draw will be the entertainment — each other.

“My goal is less is more,” Lehmann said. “The whole purpose is to socialize and visit. We have native Fostorians who now live here, snow birds who winter here, and some who schedule their vacation to visit Florida at this time just for this event.”

And for those able to attend the Fostoria Day celebration, they will do so under partly cloudy skies with a forecast promising temperatures in the 70s.

Current residents of Fostoria, in contrast, will be facing a 60 percent chance of snow and a high of 29 degrees today.