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Event keeps Bullskin heritage alive

Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier - Jim Whetsel gives a furnace talk, explaining how the iron ore furnace was used.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Rachel Basinger  |  for the Daily Courier</em></div>Jim Whetsel gives a furnace talk, explaining how the iron ore furnace was used.
Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier - Sharon Phillips of Friedens works on punching tin that her husband Roy Phillips will make into a welcome sign.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Rachel Basinger  |  for the Daily Courier</em></div>Sharon Phillips of Friedens works on punching tin that her husband Roy Phillips will make into a welcome sign.
Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier - MacKenzie Upton, 12, daughter of Theda and Tim Upton of Connellsville, joins other members of Girl Scouts Troop 54375 in hosting a craft booth at the heritage festival.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Rachel Basinger  |  for the Daily Courier</em></div>MacKenzie Upton, 12, daughter of Theda and Tim Upton of Connellsville, joins other members of Girl Scouts Troop 54375 in hosting a craft booth at the heritage festival.
Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier - Blacksmith Dennis Ulery of Bullskin Township shows off his trade.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Rachel Basinger  |  for the Daily Courier</em></div>Blacksmith Dennis Ulery of Bullskin Township shows off his trade.
Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier - Bullskin Township Historical Society past presidents Mary Kay Geary and Jim Whetsel and current president Kim Brown stand by the dedication plaque placed on the “Little Green House” during the heritage day festival on Saturday.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Rachel Basinger  |  for the Daily Courier</em></div>Bullskin Township Historical Society past presidents Mary Kay Geary and Jim Whetsel and current president Kim Brown stand by the dedication plaque placed on the “Little Green House” during the heritage day festival on Saturday.
Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier - Rock Foster gives a history lesson at the Bullskin Heritage Day on some early hunting tools.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Rachel Basinger  |  for the Daily Courier</em></div>Rock Foster gives a history lesson at the Bullskin Heritage Day on some early hunting tools.
Rachel Basinger | for the Daily Courier - Bobbi Kramer, with the Bullskin Township Historical Society, gives Hannah Bruner, 10, daughter of Vynessa and Mike Bruner of Bullskin, her prize for winning the short essay contest on a historical aspect of Mt. Olive Church located in the township.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Rachel Basinger  |  for the Daily Courier</em></div>Bobbi Kramer, with the Bullskin Township Historical Society, gives Hannah Bruner, 10, daughter of Vynessa and Mike Bruner of Bullskin, her prize for winning the short essay contest on a historical aspect of Mt. Olive Church located in the township.

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By Rachel Basinger
Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 7:39 a.m.
 

When organizers of the Bullskin Township Heritage Day first got together more than 15 years ago, no one really expected their vision would come together so quickly and beautifully.

At opening ceremonies of the 15th annual event on Saturday, a plaque with the names of past presidents of the historical society was dedicated and is on the newest addition to the festival grounds, the “Little Green House.”

“I remember when we met in the homes of Bonnie (Brougher) and Connie (Rhodes) and all of this was just a dream, so our dreams are coming true,” said Mary Kay Geary, a past president of the historical society.

Rhodes said she and Brougher, her sister, always had a vision of what the property that included an old iron ore furnace could look like.

“Being artists, we had a vision, but some couldn't imagine it because the furnace was in disrepair and the grounds were so grown up with brush,” she said. “It took a lot of work and a lot of people working together.”

Originally the festival was held at the Bullskin Township Fairgrounds, off Route 982.

“When we were there, we tried to create an atmosphere, but here the atmosphere is natural,” she said.

The event is now hosted by the Bullskin Township Historical Society on the grounds of the Mt. Washington Iron Furnace in Bullskin.

Jim Whetsel, also one of the original organizers, said it took a lot of dirt moving and brush removal to make the property conducive to hosting a festival.

“It seems like it's been a never-ending project, and there's always going to be something to do,” he said, adding that these days he's not surprised at the continued growth of the festival.

“I knew it was going to turn into something special, and it's still growing,” he said. “I think it's going to keep getting bigger and bigger.”

Having the furnace on the festival grounds makes Bullskin Township Heritage Day a unique festival experience, Whetsel said.

“The furnace is the focal point,” he said. “It's something that is educational, while at the same time still interesting.”

More and more people are getting interested in volunteering for the day and getting involved in the event.

“It's because of you all that we're here,” Geary said. “We would like to keep our heritage in Bullskin Township going strong.”

Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.

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