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Summer almost gone but the fun's not over

| Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Traditional “summer” is 80 percent gone as of today. Over. Kaput.

This year, it's the 99 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day although, based on the calendar, summer officially didn't begin until June 20 and won't end until Sept. 21.

For Mid-Mon Valley school kids, there's good news. (It is good, isn't it?) They'll head back to class in only 12 days after having spent much of their time off reading books. (They did, didn't they?)

An oft-heard question: “Where did summer go?”

It doesn't need to be that way.

An oft-heard complaint: “There's nothing to do.”

Hogwash.

Summer is a state of mind. Because weather promises to be more comfortable than the hot, humid days of July, fun and enjoyment are far from ended.

There's still plenty to do between now and the first day of school, during Labor Day weekend and on weekends leading up to Nov. 4, when Daylight Savings Time ends and we turn ahead our clocks by one hour.

Many parents, siblings, uncles and aunts will miss out in order to watch “termites” as young as 6 years old and other kid footballers emulate overpaid American sports idols.

Free experiences include parks such as Cedar Creek in Rostraver and Mingo Creek near Monongahela. Pittsburgh Steelers training camps are open to the public for the last time at St. Vincent College at 3 p.m. tomorrow and Friday. Arrive 90 minutes early for the “Steelers Experience,” a program for kids.

While the Washington County Fair ends Saturday, the Trib Total Media-Westmoreland County Fair opens Friday and runs through Aug. 25 at the fairgrounds near Greensburg.

Dare to be different. What you'll find is sure to enlighten and maybe even amaze you. Examples:

Laurel Highlands Garlic Festival. No need to travel to Gilroy, Calif., the Garlic Capital of the World, to celebrate “the stinking rose.” This festival will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Faranda Farm in Hollsopple, Somerset County, a 90-minute drive. Harold Betters, “Mr. Trombone,” will perform Saturday afternoon, great music after sampling garlic ice cream, garlic hot pepper jelly and, or course, garlic wings.

Christian Klay Winery

If you miss Betters at the Garlic Festival, you can catch him from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday Aug. 26 and Sept. 30 at the winery grounds, where activities from murder mysteries to an Ex-PAWs-ition for pets take place weekends in a rural setting in Chalk Hill, along Route 40 east of Uniontown.

Fort Ligonier Days

The popular three-day festival in Ligonier from Oct. 12-14 commemorates a key 1758 engagement of the French and Indian War. A parade at 11 a.m. Oct. 13 draws a huge crowd and, if you go, you'll understand why.

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

Antique trucks and tractors will join the permanent trolley display and rides from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 6 at the grounds near Meadowlands off I-79. As the organization advertises, “It's more than a ride, it's an experience.”

Fayette CountyItalian Festival

This ethic party has grown so large that it has been expanded to three days and moved to the Fayette County Fairgrounds, Aug. 24-26. If you don't enter the spaghetti-eating contest, why not try the grape-stomping contest?

Labor Day “Poker” Run

It's not a race. It's a charity event benefiting the West Newton-based Westmoreland Yough Trail Chapter that maintains the section of popular bike trail along the Yough River in our area. Courses are set up for walking, jogging, wheelchairs, 12-mile bike ride and a 20-mile endurance bike ride, all starting at the trail access next to the West Newton Bridge. Call 724-872-5586 and register ASAP.

Covered Bridge Festival

This annual event will be held at the sites of 10 covered bridges in Washington and Greene counties from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 15-16. Both the Henry and Ebenezer bridges are in Mingo Creek Park, where other unique events through fall include hay rides, pre-school programs and “spider mania.”

Mount Pleasant Glass Festival. A history of local glass-blowing is the theme of the three-day festival, Sept. 28-30, in the middle of town. Ethnic foods, fireworks, carnival rides and entertainment on three stages top the schedule.

Get off your butt. Look and ye shall find more things to do around here than time permits.

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Thought du jour. Thanks, London, for being a great host for a great XXX Olympiad. Cheerio!

Joe Grata is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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