Freeport welcomes all to enjoy September by the River this weekend
Long before patrons reached the 13th annual September by the River festival in Freeport, they could hear a chainsaw roaring and tap shoes clicking in the park gazebo along the Allegheny River.
Pungent smells of popcorn, haluski and homemade wedding soup lingered for blocks.
Hosted by the Freeport Renaissance Association (FRA), the outdoor fair featured dozens of crafters, a strolling magician, games, food, a parade of stuffed and live animals, a book sale and a performance from Lisa Marie’s School of Dance and by the Mon Valley Cloggers.
The festival is scheduled to continue Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at Riverside Park with a foam party, Ducky Derby and performance by Fingerz & Friends.
“I think it’s a success,” said Susie Fuhrman, co-founder of the FRA. “We want people to come out and enjoy the community and be along the river.”
Fuhrman helped launch the FRA to preserve and promote the community. She believes Freeport is the jewel of the Allegheny River and hopes her group helps to make the business district more appealing, the riverfront more utilized and the pride stronger.
The FRA hosts four free summer concerts and a holiday decorating contest, among other events through the year. It also paid to have benches and potted plants installed throughout the town.
Tina Thompson, vendor coordinator for the fall festival, said FRA volunteers work year-round to improve aesthetics in the commercial corridors and the residential streets.
“If the town tells us they want something, we try to raise money for it,” Thompson said. “This festival goes a long way to entertain our residents and introduce others to our community.”
With 31 vendors in all, people could stroll through the park to find Americana crafts, wooden holiday decor, handmade jewelry, gourmet popcorn, funnel cakes and homemade ham and cabbage soup.
Mystery author C. William Davis III was on-hand to promote his “Clive Aliston” series, the Freeport Senior Center sold hot soup and fresh-baked bread and the Kiwanis Club raffled children’s bikes.
Woodcarver Richard Hamilton of Altoona created a buzz by shaving a 3-foot log into the shape of an eagle. Nearby, he displayed finished products of birds and other animals that sold for $75 to $300.
Self-taught, Hamilton was drawn to the craft 12 years ago for the sheer fascination of impeccable detail.
“It’s a lot of practice and a little bit of frustration,” he said. “I’m always learning new things.”
Girl Scout Troop 26214 hosted a booth filled with fleece blankets and cups of catnip. Passers-by were invited to make small cat toys to take home or donate to the Butler Humane Society and Orphans of the Storm.
Rachel Blose, a sixth-grader at Freeport Area Middle School, said her troop mates didn’t forget the dogs — they got toys made from tennis balls and old T-shirts.
“We just want to, like, help them have fun if they’re in the shelter,” she said.
Thompson said the mild temperatures cooperated Saturday, and she hopes to see a large turnout Sunday, too.
Pointing to the slew of boats piled up at the nearby dock, she said, “We have people coming up on their boats from Oakmont. It’s gorgeous on the river there, and they still choose to come up here for the day. It’s wonderful.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121 x1512, [email protected] or via Twitter .