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SummerFest continues tradition of Heritage Days

| Friday, July 11, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Though it wasn't Heritage Days, there were plenty of traditions at Ford City's new summer festival, and the Ford City Legacy Group is looking forward to the future.

The group, formed specifically to institute SummerFest, succeeded in bringing together the old and new during its inaugural celebration on July 3 to 6 at Memorial Park.

The event drew inspiration from the much-loved Heritage Days, a Ford City staple that folded in 2013 after a 33-year run. In addition, it pulled in new musicians, vendors and crafters — nearly all with Armstrong County ties.

“It felt a lot like Heritage Days as far as what we had and what we did,” said Ben Dinus, Ford City Legacy Group's chairman.

He wasn't the only one who thought the event was a success.

“For a first year, it wasn't a bad start at all,” said Tom Hrabosky, a longtime Heritage Days organizer. He helped Dinus's group as SummerFest planning progressed.

“It was about being a good citizen and helping them succeed,” he said.

Dinus wants the success to continue.

“There's so much good stuff in the area,” he said. “I don't need to go and get these big names from Pittsburgh or out of state.”

The festival featured popular local rock bands like Slant 6 and longtime favorites like the Jack Tady Polka Band, along with firemen's parade, children's games, a craft area and fireworks.

Dinus and his group look to help the borough succeed, as well.

The organization wants to install permanent electricity in Memorial Park. The addition, Dinus said, could help the borough make extra money. With the proper utilities, he speculated, wedding receptions and other events could be held there.

“As it stands right now, nothing really happens in the park,” he said. “It's a beautiful park, and it deserves to have people use it more.”

Changes won't happen immediately, Dinus admits.

“It's a big expense,” he said. “We won't be able to do that next year. But maybe five years down the road, anybody could come in here and have something beautiful.”

Though big plans are on the back burner, Dinus and company are looking forward to next year's SummerFest. After Legacy Group's first year as a nonprofit, they'll be able to fundraise at the festival with raffles.

In the immediate future, members are looking forward to seeing entries for an amateur photo contest. The contest seeks the best SummerFest photos. Anyone can submit, except for professional photographers.

To Rachel Dinus, Ben's wife and fellow Summerfest organizer, the contest is a chance to see who really made the event a success.

“We want to thank the community for supporting us,” she said. “Without them, there wouldn't have been a festival.”

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1315, or jmartin@tribweb.com.

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