He's no stranger to Barnesville or the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival with his first memory of the festival playing saxophone in the Bellaire High School Marching Band in 1979 during the Cavalcade of Bands. But this year, John Rataiczak will have a new role in the festivities.

In past years, he has been the announcer for the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Parade but this year he will be known as the "Voice of the Festival." Due to the unfortunate passing of Jim Cook in December, Rataiczak agreed to take over Cook's legacy as the announcer and "Voice of the Festival."

"I want to do a perfect job at it," said Rataiczak. "But I'm still learning myself."

Besides announcing the parade, Rataiczak will also be the emcee for the opening ceremonies, microphone announcements throughout the three-day festival. and will be the voice for television and radio announcements about the festival.

Prior to being the festival announcer, Rataiczak has also been the opening announcer on Wednesday night at Jamboree in the Hills for the past two years, as well as the emcee for the Barnesville Chamber of Commerce Banquets.

Helping out and volunteering is Rataiczak's passion. He also is the chairman of the Barnesville Hospital Foundation Board, Barnesville Chamber of Commerce member, and the American Heart Association's Belmont County Heart Ball chairman with his wife, Melissa, for the past 20 years.

He also volunteers with the Morristown Historic Preservation Association, Morristown Methodist Church, Belmont County Board of MRDD, Morristown Village Council member, and Belmont County Tourism Association. Just recently, he was the emcee and auctioneer at the Barnesville High School Football Team fundraiser and auction.

The Barnesville Pumpkin Festival runs Sept. 21-24. To learn more about the festival, visit www.barnesvillepumpkinfestival.com.