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Festival celebrates Elizabeth's Lewis and Clark connections

| Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 2:01 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Scott Mandrell as Meriwether Lewis, second from left, is welcomed back to Elizabeth by Barry Boucher, Ed Falvo and Ed Hale.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Sitting down to dinner at Rockwell's Red Lion Restaurant in Elizabeth, from left, are Kenneth Berkemeyer of Missouri as Tousaint Charboneau, Bob Plummer of Missouri as Jean Baptiste de Champs and Ed Scholl of Philadelphia as Pvt. Hugh Hall.

While the rock band the Ages provided a modern sound on Elizabeth's Plum Street on Thursday night, a walk next door took visitors back 200 years.

The Monongahela River Chapter of the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation opened the annual Lewis & Clark Gateway Festival with the John Walker Dinner at Rockwell's Red Lion.

Thursday's dinner recalled the builder of a keelboat used by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in their trek across North America beginning on Aug. 31, 1803.

“This is part reunion and part reenactment,” accountant Bill Boucher said.

Elizabeth is welcoming back many who took part in 2003-2006 reenactment of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

“You need to own this story,” said Scott Mandrell of St. Louis, who portrays Lewis in the film “Lewis & Clark, Confluence of Time and Courage,” which will be shown on Friday at 2 and Saturday at 4 at the Grand Theatre, 207 S. Second Ave.

“It is not just the story of Lewis and Clark,” Mandrell said. “It is the story of western expansion. It is the story of boat building.”

The expedition was President Thomas Jefferson's attempt to reach out to Native Americans living along the Missouri River.

“Subsequent administrations bastardized that intent,” Mandrell said. “Native people in this country suffered mightily.”

Ed Hale of the Pittsburgh American Indian Center led prayers in a native tongue to the Great Spirit, as Native Americans called God.

Andy Janicki of Georgetown, Beaver County, portrayed Patrick Gass during the reenactment.

“He was the chief carpenter,” Janicki's wife, Mary, said of Gass. “He was elected to sergeant after Sgt. Charles Floyd died.”

Floyd was the expedition's only fatality, apparently as a result of appendicitis.

At 63, Gass married a 17-year-old Virginia girl and had eight children. The Janickis said Eugene Gass Painter, Gass's great-grandson, is 95 and lives in Washington County.

The festival continues at noon on Friday and Saturday along S. Second and Plum Street. Flag raising is at 12:30.

At 2:30 each day, John McNulty will teach kids a manual of arms using wooden rifles.

On Friday at 3 and Saturday at 4:30, Ed Falvo of Elizabeth Township Historical Society will teach about frontier medicine. He has every medicine that Lewis knew except opium and laudanum, and tools that date back to 1803.

At 3:30 each day, McNulty and Falvo will talk about “river conditions, then and now.”

At 4 on Friday and 5 on Saturday at the Grand Theatre, reenactor and retired Army Col. Ed Scholl will give a PowerPoint program and sign copies of his “Lewis & Clark in the Twenty-First Century.”

On Friday at 4:30 there will be camping on the Lewis & Clark Trail, while at 5 there will be “Songs of the Trail.”

On both days at 5:30 there will be Native American demonstrations, songs and dances, then a flag lowering at 6:30.

On Saturday there will be lessons on fire starting from the Lewis and Clark era at 7 and then stories, tall tales and a sing-along around the campfire at 7:30.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or