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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Jim and Steve Goff:
Scarecrow scene provides tribute to Elba legends: Stumblin' Inn Owners
Scarecrows stand on the plot of land where the Stumblin' Inn once stood in Elba.

Scott Desmit's story (DN) released at 10:15 pm

When Sarah Zipfel Norton found out the village Betterment Committee was conducting a scarecrow contest, she knew exactly what she was going to create. Something to honor Jim and Steve Goff, longtime owners of The Stumblin’ Inn.

“I knew immediately that we needed something to remember them,” Norton said. “The spot sits empty and it’s sad and every time I drive by I think of them.” The Stumblin’ Inn was a landmark in the village, a 143-year-old building that stood until fire ravaged the building July 8, 2018.

The Goffs bought the building in 1979 and it was one of hubs of music in Genesee County ever since. The Goff brothers decided not to rebuild. Steve Goff, known as Stork, died March 9 at the age of 64. He also served as mayor of the village. Jim Goff died June 11 at age 63.

The loss of the two brothers stunned the community and region. Norton was one of the many who tended bar at The Stumblin.

The first Saturday in October, she and a group of her friends headed to the site, now a bare grass lot, and began constructing the scarecrows. They painted the pumpkins with “Hey, Hey, My My, Rock & Roll Will Never Die” from the Neil Young song. Those words hung in the bar for more than 30 years.

“We hit the thrift shops and tried to figure out what they would wear and that’s what we came up with,” Norton said. “It really had nothing to do with winning the contest. We wanted to honor them,” she said. “And when they brought their mom (Marguerite) out to see it, that was amazing.”

The Elba Betterment Committee is expected to announce the winners of the contest some time before Sunday.

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