Kids lend their hands at Fort Hand Festival
Kids made their mark at this year's Fort Hand Festival — one they can come back to see for years to come.
As part of the weekend festival at Kunkle Park in Washington Township, Westmoreland County, kids were able to dip their hands in latex paint and press them against concrete planters near the park's playground.
The nine planters actually are concrete culverts that were turned on end, filled with dirt and topped with flowers. Meant to guard the playground from wayward cars, they were painted this summer.
Each print was dated and initialed. The youngest was the yellow footprint of a 3-week-old baby, said Susie Toman, a member of the festival committee, whose hands were covered in every color of paint being offered.
The prints will be covered with a sealant to better preserve them, Toman said.
“You can come back in a couple years and see how big your hand got,” Toman said. “It gives them ownership of the playground.”
The festival, named for the Revolutionary War-era fort that once stood in the area, went on as planned for its first day Saturday despite rain that fell most of the day. Turnout was low, but those who did come were treated to a fireworks show Saturday night, when the rain had ended.
“Like the early Fort Hand pioneers, we never say die,” Elise Glenn, a festival committee member, said Sunday. “The weather slows us down but it doesn't stop us.”
“Everyone who didn't come yesterday seems to be here today,” she said. “It's a great place to see everybody. It really is a community event.”
While some vendor spots were empty on Sunday, the Kiskiminetas Free Masons Lodge 617 stuck it out both days, selling pulled pork sandwiches, and a few umbrellas, in its first time at the festival.
“The weather hurt us pretty bad yesterday. It really put a damper on the crowd,” said Brian McCollim, the lodge's presiding officer. “We've done rather well today. It's a good day so far. The weather is beautiful.”
The festival, first held in 2002, was born in the shadow of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a way to bring the community together, said Rob Malley, a member of the township's recreation committee.
“I see people I only see here and they're neighbors,” he said.
Proceeds from the festival go toward improving Kunkle Park.
Although a boulder and plaque commemorate Fort Hand, its exact location is open to question. Built in 1777 on what was then the western frontier, it is notable for having withstood an Indian attack on April 26, 1779.
An encampment and battle re-enactment is being planned for April 26-27, the 235th anniversary of the attack.
Members of the Brigade of the American Revolution were last at the park in 2012 and were not expected to return until 2015. It was moved up in recognition of the anniversary, which happens to fall on a weekend.
Dennis Sopchack of New Kensington, a member of the group, was dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier and shared some history with festival-goers.
“Some people know a lot (of the history), some people don't know anything,” he said.
In addition to food, music and games, this year's festival featured inflatable rides for the kids, replacing carnival rides.
The handprint activity wasn't offered on Saturday because of the rain. More than 40 children had put their prints on the planters by the festival's final hours Sunday afternoon.
Pete and Missy DeVito's three daughters put their handprints together on one of the planters — Isabella, 8, was yellow; Mia, 7, was blue; and Gianna, 5, was red.
“It's cute,” Missy DeVito said. “Every time we come here, we'll have to come and look at it.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alle-Kiski Valley businesses profit from jump in tourism
- Vermont Baptist Church warmly welcomed in New Kensington
- Highlands students fired up about NYC trip
- Despite challenging weather, home sales continue to rise
- Retired teacher pushes black history forward at Peoples Library presentation
- Oakmont hit-run probed
- Mia Z (Zanotti) of Hyde Park advances on NBC’s ‘The Voice’
- Eagles again flourishing in Western Pa.
- BCCC donation carries on passion of late conservationist William Baer
- 3 charged with selling heroin that killed Lower Burrell woman
- Months of hard work go into Alle-Kiski high-school musicals