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Ford City festival group hopes to 'keep heritage alive'

| Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, 1:56 a.m.

FORD CITY — In the wake of news from its organizing committee that the annual Ford City Heritage Days festival is finished, other community members are stepping up to plan a festival to take its place, and they are seeking public input.

A meeting has been planned for 6 this evening in Ford City Public Library.

Allison Cousins, 29, of Ford City is one of the organizers and is hoping that area residents, especially those within the 20-30 age bracket, will attend to brainstorm ideas and offer suggestions.

“We need all the help we can get,” she said.

Cousins, the daughter of Mary Ann Lukehart and former Ford City Councilman Dan Cousins, said she was upset when she learned about the Heritage Days Inc. Committee's decision to dissolve the group and discontinue the festival.

“I wanted something for my daughter, Bella,” she said. “I wanted her to have the same kind of childhood I had, with the parade and fireworks.”

So Cousins took on a leadership role and is spearheading a grass-roots effort to start a family-friendly event.

Although the group has not adopted an official name, it is using the working name of Ford City Area Community Days.

Organizers seek input and cooperation from people in the borough as well as those living in neighboring municipalities.

An initial meeting, held Wednesday in the Latin American Club on Third Avenue, was attended by 10 people.

According to the meeting minutes posted on Facebook under Ford City Area Community Days 2014, the group would like to keep the word “ heritage” as part of the promotional literature and wants the phrase “Keeping our heritage alive” to be emphasized.

Initial ideas included plans to feature local talent and to attract more vendors from diverse cultural backgrounds. One suggestion was made to include a genealogy booth where presenters wearing traditional clothing could speak about their respective culture and heritage.

Don Mains of Ford City, who is helping to facilitate the growth of the new organization, said the response on Facebook has been amazing, with a lot of people offering positive suggestions and support.

Should plans for a new community festival materialize, Mains said, he intends to be on the cleanup committee for trash pickup since that is usually the committee with the fewest number of volunteers.

But for now, he and Cousins are hoping people show up tonight to offer support.

“Perhaps a new tradition can be born,” Mains said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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