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Sidewalk sales mark unofficial start of Fort Armstrong Folk Festival

| Thursday, July 31, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Roadwork in Kittanning wasn't deterring Wednesday sidewalk sales that have become the unofficial start of the annual Fort Armstrong Folk Festival that begins today in Riverfront Park.

Construction projects on the Kittanning Citizens Bridge and Market Street could discourage a few people from making the trek into town, but organizers say crowds of close to 100,000 are expected for the four-day festival.

“I think you could scatter the Folk Festival across all the rooftops in Kittanning and people would still find a way to come,” said Turney Luke, owner of the 700 Shop on Market Street. “I don't think a little construction and limited traffic will keep too many people away.”

Luke and several store employees spent Wednesday morning putting racks of shirts, pants and tables full of shoes outside his store for its annual sidewalk sale. They are one of several businesses in Kittanning setting up tables of discounted merchandise during the festival.

Sidewalk sales throughout Kittanning have become a big part of the Fort Armstrong Folk Festival, said Diana Troyan, director of merchandise at Klingensmith's eight locations.

“We've had ours for many, many years. It's really become a tradition that a lot of our shoppers make a part of their time at the festival,” Troyan said. “Not even rain keeps them away.”

PennDOT spokeswoman Deborah Casadei said crews will not be working on the bridge during the festival.

“The weather has slowed down the bridge's progress, but we still won't have crews working on it during the festival,” Casadei said. “The traffic patterns will stay the same, there just won't be any work done.”

Festival coordinator Jessica Coil said organizers are not worried about the construction going on during the festival.

“We've put signs up clearly marking the detour, so it's not difficult to get around at all,” Coil said. “Once you're in town, it's not difficult to get around either.”

Kittanning Council President Randy Cloak said work crews, festival coordinators and business owners have been working well together during construction that will ultimately lead to better roads, sidewalks and a spiffed up downtown area.

“We have so many great improvements going on in Kittanning,” Cloak said. “The construction might be an inconvenience to some this year, but when it's done, it will make the borough an even better place.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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