Derry Railroad Days includes parade, race, fiddle tunes
A parade featuring popular marching units of the Shriners group, a miniature train display, a 5-mile foot race and a band performing fiddle tunes created by a native of Derry are among the highlights of the annual Derry Railroad Days festival, set for Saturday and Sunday.
Celebrating the town's 1852 origin and heyday as a main station for the Pennsylvania Railroad, Railroad Days will offer food, craft and information booths from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Derry business district.
The festival will include an encampment by Civil War re-enactors, pony rides, hay wagon rides, children's activities in Juvenile Junction and trackless train rides on Saturday only. Festival-goers can visit Derry Borough Fireman's Museum, upstairs in the borough municipal building, 114 E. Second Ave., and a miniature train layout and a display by the Derry Area Historical Society, in the basement of Trinity Lutheran Church at South Chestnut Street and Fourth Avenue.
A schedule of live entertainment will be featured both days. There will be health screenings by Excela Health and Indiana Regional Medical Center, a 50/50 drawing and a festival gift shop and display of railroad-related items in two cabooses maintained by the Railroad Days Committee.
Kicking off the festival will be a Hobo Picnic at 5:30 p.m Thursday near the cabooses — off South Chestnut along the Norfolk Southern rail corridor. A $2 donation is requested for a serving of hobo stew and cookies.
Those attending are encouraged to dress as hobos to compete for the titles of Hobo King and Queen. Musical entertainment will be provided by Dark Hollow.
A parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the parking lot of A.V. Germano Hall and will head on North Chestnut Street to Route 217, traveling southbound on 217 over the railroad bridge and turning onto Third Avenue, where it will end.
Units expected to participate include the Shriners' Chanters singing group and Lil 'Vettes mini-cars as well as members of a Model A Ford club from Pittsburgh.
The Ligonier Vally YMCA is co-sponsoring the Derry Roundhouse Roundup 5-Mile Run/2-Mile Walk on Sunday.
The race will start at 8:30 a.m. at 60 S. Chestnut St. and will loop around Ethel Springs Lake and on the Derry Area School District walking path. For safety reasons, the course will be cleared by 10:30 a.m. For insurance purposes, no strollers, dogs, rollerblades or bicycles are allowed.
Registration is $25, including on race day. Participants can pick up race packets beginning at 7 a.m. Awards will be given to the top three overall male and female runners and the top three finishers in each age group.
For information, contact Amy at 724-699-8986 or ALHEBEN@gmail.com.
Sponsored by the Derry Area Historical Society, the Keystone Rebels band is slated to perform at 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday as part of the live entertainment lineup at Railroad Days.
Specializing in the traditional music of Pennsylvania, the band was formed in 2004 by fiddler Todd Clewell of the York area along with Henry Koretzky of Harrisburg, Mark Tamsula of Pittsburgh and Carl Rahkonen of Indiana.
At Railroad Days, the band is expected to perform a musical tribute to Sarah Gray Armstrong, a traditional fiddler born in the Derry area whose tunes were transcribed and preserved by Pittsburgh researcher Samuel Preston Bayard in the 1944 book “Hill Country Tunes.”
Clewell has recorded a CD focusing on Armstrong's tunes. For more information, visit www.toddclewell.com/sarah.html.
Ride the Rails trip
The Derry Railroad Days Committee is organizing a trip titled “Ride the Rails — Save the Caboose” on Oct. 19 to raise funds to help repair weathered areas of the committee's two stationary cabooses, which have been in place in Derry for more than 20 years.
Participants will take a ride on and tour the vintage equipment and historic train station of the Walkersville Southern Railroad, a tourist railroad near Frederick, Md., that is based on a former branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad dating to 1869.
The cost of the trip is $50 per person with seating limited to 50. The bus will leave Derry's A.V. Germano Hall at 7 a.m. and is expected to return about 10 p.m. The bus will make rest stops, but food is not included in the fare.
To sign up for the trip, contact Russ McKlveen, president of the Railroad Days Committee, at 724-309-1746 after 3 p.m.