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Fort Armstrong fest in full swing in Kittanning

| Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, 12:16 a.m.
Kehley Shank, contributing photographer
Carol Thomas (left) and Sally Krozely, both of Kittanning, cut and plate slices of pie in the kitchen of the First United Methodist Church Covenant Center during the Fort Armstrong Folf Festival Friday afternoon.
Kehley Shank, contributing photographer
Logan Goheen, 4, pets a ram at the petting zoo Friday afternoon at the Fort Armstrong Folk Festival in Kittanning.

The Fort Armstrong Folk Festival is in full swing along Kittanning's Riverfront Park, where visitors are flocking in to sample homemade food, rock out to live music, peruse a wide variety of arts and craft booths and watch colonial and Civil War-themed demonstrations.

“It's been really busy,” said Allison Shiring, standing by an enclosure of sheep, goats, ducks and chickens.

She and her husband, Jason, own the Shaggy Mountain Farm petting zoo. They provide information to children about how people in Colonial times raised and benefited from animals like the ones in the hay-lined enclosure.

“We brought our new goat, Maple. She was a bottle baby, so she's really tame,” Shiring said, adding that all the animals are friendly. “Petting is encouraged.”

Children have been getting a kick out of the carnivorous plants for sale at the Sunny Sprouts Greenhouse booth. Owners Nancy and Richard Neel have set up shop under the shade of the park's towering cottonwood tree.

Richard held out an American Pitcher plant that grows modified leaves sprouting from hollow, water-filled stems.

“It traps all sorts of bugs, like gnats, ticks, fleas, stink bugs and spiders,” he said. “The insects dissolve and decompose.”

Standing nearby, his wife added: “It's like the little shop of horrors.”

The Neels have plenty of other plants to tempt buyers, including perennials, cacti, tropicals and Bonsai.

Nonprofits and churches — like the First United Methodist Church Covenant Center — have also been keeping up with crowds, serving up an abundance of homemade pies and featuring work from local artists.

Early Friday afternoon, the sidewalk and lawn in front of the Covenant Center were lined with people ordering slices of cherry banana pineapple, chocolate peanut butter or tollhouse pies — to name just a few.

“Everybody's outdoing themselves with the names,” coordinator June Pollard said as she made her way to the center's kitchen, down the hall from the art exhibit.

Many of the framed paintings and photographs are for sale. Visitors to the art exhibit are encouraged to make a donation to help pay for next year's prizes awarded to the top three winning artists in each category, said Melissa Flanders, art show chairwoman.

Back in the kitchen, Brenda Beers of West Kittanning stirred up pie filling for her chocolate meringue pies.

“It's a lot of work, but we really enjoy it,” Beers said. “We get a lot of repeat customers. With the bridge half-closed, we didn't know how it would be. It doesn't seem to be affecting the crowd.”

Outside at the pie booth, Andre LaStrapes lined up for his dessert.

“The pie from Covenant is on its way to heaven,” he said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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