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Fort Ligonier Days committee on task with 3 months to go

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:04 p.m.

The 54th Fort Ligonier Days festival is three months away, and committee volunteers are hard at work finalizing plans for the annual community celebration.

Festival co-chair Jack McDowell said several changes were made to the Fort Ligonier Days ordinance with a focus on the safety.

“We tweaked some parts of the ordinance,” said McDowell who co-chairs the committee with Bill Stablein. “In the past 10 years, some things have changed enough over that period of time that it needed to be addressed.”

McDowell said the thrust of the changes are based on the need for safety at the event. Second is the need to maintain control of the event. “We have to have certain kinds of rules to prevent a dilemma. Some years, we can expect up to 100,000 people over the three-day event.”

McDowell said the ordinance is written and controlled by Ligonier Borough Council.

Changes include a moratorium on eliminating tag sales in the community during Fort Days. No one will be allowed to have yard, garden, tag or porch sales that weekend.

Merchants cannot place tents, awnings or temporary enclosures over sidewalk sales.

“It can create a public hazard,” said McDowell.

The application for non-juried vendors was revised in order to prevent over-crowded areas that make it hard to access in case of emergency.

“These are all incident-driven changes. We want to prevent unsafe conditions,” said McDowell. The penalty for each violation is $600.

The new ordinance is published online on the borough's website at

5K race returns to Fort Days

The three-day event, set for Oct. 11-12-13, will feature a large parade, a 5K race, a visit by George Washington, craft and food booths, live entertainment, special activities for children and a Saturday night fireworks display.

The 5K race will be held Sunday morning, prior to church services, with an 8:30 a.m. starting time at Ligonier Valley High School. The race will begin and end at the high school.

It has been at least a decade since Pam Anderson initiated the first Fort Ligonier Days 5K race. At the request of the Fort Days committee members, she will revive the race for this year's event.

“I coordinated the race for two years. But then we were starting up a business and could not make the commitment to continue chairing the event, ” said Anderson, owner of Pamela's Golden Touch in Ligonier. “So when they asked me this year, I said absolutely.”

This time around, Anderson will have help from co-chairs Mark Sorice and Michelle Wissinger.

The race committee is working on acquiring sponsors for the race.

“We are looking for local businesses and merchants to donate gift certificates or items,” said Anderson.

A re-enactor from Fort Ligonier will officially start the race by firing a period weapon. “It is a way to keep the fort a part of the event,” said Anderson.

There will be a children's one-mile fun run for kindergarten through third-grade students from the Ligonier Valley School District. It will be conducted at the high school.

Young students will have the opportunity to design artwork for the race's T-shirt.

“These kids are amazing. The last time we did this, it was great,” she said. “The first year we had 125 participants. This year we hope to shoot for 300. I feel anything we can do to help the community stay healthy and fit — it goes hand in hand. It is important for people to realize everything we bring into the community helps support the community. Every dollar made trickles down to go back into the community.”

Sponsor and race registration forms are available at the Ligonier Valley Chamber office or by calling 724-238-4200.

George Washington re-enactor Dean Malissa of Mount Vernon plans to take part in the parade, and will be making some other appearances at the fort and around Ligonier during the weekend.

The Marine Corps Band of Quantico, Va. will not be in this year's festivities, due to federal budgetary restrictions.

However, the Mountaineer Marching Band from West Virginia University will mark its third appearance in the parade.

The WVU band, known for its high energy performances, accepted Ligonier's offer even though they have a commitment to perform again that evening,

Parade co-chair Peggy Shepler said she has received confirmations from a dozen high school bands to participate in the parade, including Butler, Hempfield, Franklin Regional and Morgantown, W. Va. Making first-time appearances will be the Jefferson-Morgan Rocket Band from Greene County and South Allegheny's Gladiator Band.

“Sharing Our Legacy” is this year's parade theme.

“We try to come up with a different theme every year,” said Shepler. “I was thinking back about people I remember when I was growing up who were so knowledgeable about the history of the town. This is a way to share some of our history with visitors who come to the Fort Ligonier Days parade.”

Shepler hopes some of the floats might feature a Civil War theme to recognize veterans from the Ligonier Valley and the 150th anniversary in Gettysburg this year.

“We are so rich in history and legacy here in Ligonier that it should an easy task to come up with a float idea,” said Shepler who shares the co-chair with Tom Stablein.

For the latest information about Fort Ligonier Days, go to

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or

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