Tue, Jul 17, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Ohio farmers leave estate to festival devoted to twins


A donation that the Twins Days festival is getting from the estate of two frugal bachelor farmers is enough to make some people do a double-take: as much as US$5 million.

John and William Reiff, once recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's most identical twins, left most of their estate to the festival in Twinsburg, about 24km southeast of Cleveland. John Reiff died in 2005 and William five years earlier, but only recently have plans to develop part of the twins' suburban Philadelphia farm been worked out.

With the land deal expected to be completed this year, about US$4 million to US$5 million will go to the festival, Forrest Norman, a lawyer for the Twins Days Festival Committee, told the Plain Dealer in a story published on Sunday. The festival committee intends to invest the money to help pay for operating costs.

The Reiffs, who attended their first Twins Days festival in the late 1970s, always dressed alike, talked alike and enjoyed dating other twins, said neighbor John Bechtel, who is also executor of their estate. The wiry, bespectacled pair won many "most identical" competitions over the years.

Norman said, "They were just a couple of old farmers from Pennsylvania who you would not think had two cents to rub together."

The annual Twins Days festival, a three-day event that begins Aug. 3 this year, attracts about 3,000 sets of twins, triplets and quadruplets and features contests such as those for the most alike and least alike twins. Over the years, it also has attracted scientists interested in genetic research.

The Reiff brothers, who never married, gave most of their fortune to the Twins Days festival but also left US$250,000 to four churches. None of their four living sisters was named in their will.

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