Fort Ligonier Days make everything old new again
By Cynthia Bombach Helzel
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 7:29 p.m.
At Fort Ligonier Days, everything old — and not so old — is new again. In addition to the re-enactments of the historic Battle of Fort Ligonier and an appearance by “George Washington,” a 5K run/walk will be held Sunday morning after being absent from the festival schedule for nearly 10 years.
This year, the festival Saturday falls on the 255th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Ligonier, which occurred on Oct. 12, 1758.
“That makes it very special for us,” says Annie Urban, the fort's executive director. “The reason we have Fort Ligonier Days every year is so that we can commemorate this battle.”
The 18th century will come to life at the fort with living-history encampments of British and French military, Native Americans, Scottish Highlanders and musicians.
“We'll have close to 100 re-enactors camped at the fort,” Urban says.
George Washington portrayer Dean Malissa will be at the museum from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 11, after he participates in the opening ceremonies at noon on the Diamond. Battle re-enactments will take place at 2 and 4 p.m. Oct. 12 and 13, with artillery demonstrations beginning half an hour before each battle. There also will be demonstrations of blacksmithing and outdoor bread-baking.
Festival attendance, which has topped 100,000 over the three days, peaks for the parade at 11 a.m. Oct. 12.
“The parade is typically the highlight of the event,” says longtime event co-Chair Bill Stablein. With more than 125 units, the parade lasts about an hour and a half and will make its way down Main Street and around the Diamond. Parade watchers can expect to see historic re-enactors, Shriners, equestrian units, antique cars, local TV personalities, 19 bands, half a dozen floats and more.
A vast array of carefully screened artists and craftspeople will be selling paintings, prints, jewelry, pottery, metalwork, woodcrafts, furniture, dried flowers, artisan foods and much more. The 150 craft booths are divided among four locations, all linked by shuttle-bus service. Ligonier's merchants also will have sidewalk sales during the festival.
A Kids Korner in the side yard of the Ligonier Valley YMCA on West Church Street will feature a bounce house, trampoline, fish pond, face painting, pastel and charcoal portraits and other fun activities and crafts for kids.
Dozens of food booths will offer everything from turkey legs, quesadillas, burgers, pizza and crab cakes to funnel cakes, crepes, apple dumplings and cobblers. In addition, three local churches will offer sit-down meals, including a pancake breakfast, hot dogs, sauerkraut, pulled pork and desserts.
Throughout the weekend, visitors will be treated to free outdoor concerts by bands playing in a variety of genres, including Full Kilt (Celtic rock), Sydney Hutchko (country rock), Arrival Band (Journey tribute) and River City Brass. A fireworks display will begin at 8:45 p.m. Oct. 12, following a concert by Beatlemania Magic. The full entertainment schedule is posted at www.visitligonier.com.
Parking for the festival is available only in designated areas. Free shuttle bus service will run from Ligonier Valley High School and Laurel Valley Golf Club to the festival and back. Because of health and safety concerns, no dogs or backpacks will be permitted in the festival areas.
Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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