Entertainer set for 60th straight appearance
By Rob Wheary, Staff Writer • email@example.com
PILLOW – For the past 60 years, the last Friday in July has meant one thing to the people of this small community — “Crazy Elmer” is coming to town.
ClenRoy Geist, under his stage name, will make his 60th straight appearance at the Pillow firemen’s carnival on Friday, July 29, appearing with the band the Outlaws, with a show starting at 8 p.m.
“I’ve been there for 60 years straight, never missed a show and never had a rainout,” Geist said from his home. “Pillow is very special to me, cause for some reason they keep having me back and we pack the place.
Geist said there are times when people will leave their chairs on a Thursday night at the Fire company picnic grounds, just so they can have a seat for Crazy Elmer and the Outlaws.
For 67 years, Elmer has been entertaining audiences through Pennsylvania and New Jersey with special trips to Wheeling, W. Va., Richmond, Va., and Myrtle Beach, S.C. He started performing at the age of 13, being a part of the minstrel shows in his hometown of Longswamp, Pa.
“I started in the chorus and watched as the six end men, the performers would do their routines on stage,” Geist said. “The next year, one of the end men quit and they asked me if I wanted to do it, so I did.”
At the next performance, one of the band members for the country music band Earl Keller
and the Melody Rangers was in the audience and made Geist an offer following the show. He asked Geist if he wanted to join the band and do stand up comedy at their shows.
“I went to my father and talked to him about it, and he gave me the one piece of advice I never forgot. ‘If you’re going to do this, do it right.’,” Geist said. “Apparently, I hope I’m doing it right, cause I’m still doing it.”
Performing as just “Elmer”, Geist began to travel the area and the state with Keller and his band. In 1957, at the age of 22, he made his first visit to Pillow.
“I’ll never forget the first trip to Pillow. I was riding with Earl and thought to myself, where the hell are we going to do this show. I thought we would never get there,” he said.
In 1968, Keller decided to leave the music business and Geist became “Crazy Elmer”, joining up with Shorty Long and the Santa Fe Rangers. In 1977, he joined with his current band, “The Outlaws” and has been performing with them ever since, traveling around to different performances
“It started out with doing 47 carnivals between May and September, but now that has dwindled to about 15 or 20,” Geist said.
Performing with the Outlaws has been extra special for Geist now that his grandson, Kyle” is the lead guitar player and vocalist for the group.
Geist does not limit himself to the Outlaws, though. Since 1997, “Crazy Elmer” has popped up as far as New Jersey, performing with the Tim Gillis Band and at Penn’s Peak amphitheater with the Branson Fever Show.
“Crazy Elmer” can also be found speaking to large groups about life at several “Fersommling” banquets.
“I was brought up a Pennsylvania Dutchman and a lot of my act talks about the Pennsylvania Dutch life. Those events are all men and we have a good time at them,” Geist said.
Officials are checking if the 60 straight years of performing at one place is some sort of a record, but no matter what, Geist and his alter ego are ready to perform for the good people of Pillow.
“The Outlaws and I love to entertain, and we will do it again in Pillow very soon,” Geist said.
The Pillow Fire Company carnival will run from Tuesday, July 26 until Saturday, July 30 at Maple Dale Park, Pillow.
The annual fire apparatus parade will be at 7 p.m. July 26. and will also feature entertainment by Shannon with Tom and Randy, Generation Gap, Borderline, and Memory Lane.
Crazy Elmer and the Outlaws’ appearance at the carnival is sponsored by Koppy’s on the Square, W&W Residential Services Inc., Back 2 Back Chiropractic, and Meckley’s Limestone Products.