Chamber's Independence Day Festival 'a great day'

| Friday, July 5, 2013, 11:00 a.m.

The Fayette Chamber of Commerce held its 18th annual Independence Day Festival featuring Chevron presents: Fireworks Over Fayette on June 30.

The festival was held on the grounds of the Uniontown Mall and accommodated several thousand visitors between 3 p.m. and dusk. Those in attendance braved the heat to enjoy some delicious food, live entertainment and a number of family-friendly activities.

Local branches of the Lions Club and the United Veterans Association were in attendance, showing their support and raising community awareness.

Several local radio stations also attended the festival.

At the WMBS booth, on-air personality Mike Sackley and station intern Tori Adams gave patrons the chance to spin a wheel and win a number of prizes. Many walked away with mini frisbees, buy-local discount cards, Seven Springs Resort passes, and Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium tickets.

Froggy and Pickle Radio were present, with Froggy himself strolling the crowd and taking photos with all in attendance. On-air personalities Pete Moss and Danger Frog spent a large part of the day playing cornhole with festival-goers.

“We love coming out to support this wonderful event each year,” said Pete Moss. “My favorite thing about it is probably all the barbecued food.”

“What I love most about coming to the Independence Day Festival here is being able to enjoy the beautiful view all around me,” said Danger Frog. “My family and I love the Laurel Mountains, including Ohiopyle and the Stone House Restaurant. We spend as much time in this area as we can.”

Although the festival featured many adult activities, including free clinical breast exams, children's entertainment was not in short supply. In between snacking on cotton candy and snow cones, kids of all ages enjoyed face painting by Canvas Creations and a number of inflatable bounce-house obstacle courses.

Tonya Bohatch and Rose Ziglear brought their children, as well as their Girl Scout troop, to the festival. At their Girl Scouts of America booth, children made paper lanterns and other crafts.

“It was important for us to be here today to raise awareness for local troops in the area and spread the message of what we do,” said Ziglear. “This entire event promotes what we're about, which is getting out in the community and helping each other.”

At the heart of the festival, three live performances entertained festival-goers for the duration of the day. The Neon Swing X-perience kicked things off with a one-of-a-kind show that blended several genres of music.

Local performers Metro had guests singing along to an assortment of hits that spanned three decades, from Journey to Lady Gaga.

Festival headliner Steve Smith brought his band to town for what he called a “rockin', kickin' country show.” They delivered just that, as Steve played a banjo he hand-made from the wood on his father's farm.

The West Virginia native started playing music and singing at the age of 12, but he finally put together his perfect band five years ago. Since then, the Steve Smith band has been performing as much as possible at different venues, but Fayette County is one of their favorite locations.

“This is my second home,” Smith said. “I never thought I'd meet people who are as good and friendly as the ones from my hometown, until I came here.”

The Independence Day Festival marked one show on a long list of upcoming performances for the band, including their “Coming Home to Where it All Started” show in Gandyville, W. Va. on July 5.

Smith said his supporters and some Jackson Farms ice cream are what made him want to participate in the festival.

“We've got a lot of great fans and friends here in Fayette County,” said Smith. “For a while, I didn't want to cross the Mason-Dixon Line, but I'm glad I did.”

Smith and his band of country rockers entertained the crowd until dusk, when Keystone Fireworks began a colorful display of pyrotechnics that drew spectators from across several counties to the Uniontown area.

“The event is a chance for businesses to give back to the community that supports them all year long,” said Fayette Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Muriel Nuttall. “We had a great turnout, and I hope even more people will attend next year. If they couldn't make it this year, they really missed out on a great day.”

Kaylie Harper is a contributiong writer for Trib Total Media.

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