Go back in time at the annual Penn’s Colony Festival
The aroma of a freshly baked loaf will greet you upon entering. Enjoy a slice, topped with melting apple butter.
Homemade bread is just one of the enticing reasons to attend the 36th annual Penn’s Colony Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 28 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 22 and 29 at the Penn’s Colony Village Grounds in Saxonburg.
The event re-creates a bustling colonial village of French and Indian-era Pittsburgh through tree-lined, easy walking grounds. Enjoy battle reenactments, historical magic shows and live Irish, English and Scottish music.
There will be horse-drawn surrey rides and pony rides. More than 180 artisans and juried craftsmen will showcase their wares at the “Craftsman’s Marketplace” offering a variety of handmade in America contemporary and traditional items for the home and garden, seasonal decorations, gifts and personal accessories. Children can participate in the many activities available from sack races to tug o’ war.
Experience blacksmithing, glassblowing, needle arts, spinning and weaving and the aforementioned bread baking.
“I like being part of things that cover both the aspect of historical significance of Western Pennsylvania and highlights artists that are local and from all over the country,” says Justin Cherry, owner of Half Crown Bakehouse based in Charleston, S.C., who will be showcasing his homemade breads. “Making items from scratch is part of a revival and I hope it continues. The tradition of the types of crafts you see at these festivals is important because it lets us share how to make something by hand.”
A Butler native, Cherry says he has always been interested in the story of the grains that go into making the freshest and tastiest breads. He will bring a 2,500-pound mobile oven to do the baking. The chef, who has been a reeanactor for 25 years, dresses as authentically as possible when doing these period events. He will also be baking waffles, cookies, meat pies and a variety of dishes from the era. Cherry will have heirloom flour, grains and spice blends for sale. He was inspired to be part of the event because his mother Luann Cherry and his late grandmother Winifred Kennedy owned Kennedy Spices which they sold at Penn’s Colony Festival.
He has a dough box in which he can make 85 loaves of dough and have fresh bread — hot and ready to eat.
In addition to learning how to make bread, guests will witness demonstrations by Vessel Studio Glass of the South Side. Co-owners Drew and Jeannine Hine will be showcasing live glass-blowing dressed in the clothing of the time period. The festival allows the artists to showcase the intricacies of their craft, Jeannine Hine says. The couple has a portable modern furnace with a built-in kiln. It still creates glass in the traditional form since how it’s made hasn’t changed. It’s still about hot glass and fire, she says.
“We are excited to bring what we do to the festival,” Jeannine Hine says. “We will be making glass pumpkins and mugs people can buy. We will also have real pumpkins that we will have carved out and will blow glass into them. It’s a fun event.”
Beth Ann Rush, promotions manager, whose husband Ray started the Penn’s Colony Festival 36 years ago because of his love of the French and Indian War, says the festival, which encompasses 10- 12 acres, will feature more demonstrations this year.
Rush expects 8,000 to 10,000 people to attend per day. She says guests enjoy talking with each other as well as interacting with the re-enactors and artisans at the festival rated No. 1 in Pennsylvania by festivals4fun.com.
The event is also a time to learn about Gen. George Washington, who was trained as a map maker, surveyor and a member of the military districts of the Virginia colony, owned by the British, according to a news release.
The time period encompasses 1753 through 1754, for which the 21-year-old Washington volunteered. He explored and documented the territory claimed by the French through the “Ohio Country,” west of the Alleghenies from Montreal to the “Forks of the Ohio” (Allegheny River at the Point in Pittsburgh).
“Every city has fall festivals which celebrate the harvest, but we believe Penn’s Colony Festival showcases the grounds as well as the many demonstrators, vendors, reenactors, food and entertainment choices,” Rush says. “The artisans represent the commitment to the heritage of the time period. We tell the story of that time period through reenactors and hope guests enjoy the experience. There will be entertainment from that era. It’s a chance to learn about the history and different cultures and shop and eat and just have an enjoyable outing. When you enter through the gate it transports you back in time.”
And hopefully it takes you to the place where the homemade bread is being baked.
Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for children and free for children 7 and under.
The Penn’s Colony Festival is held at Penn’s Colony Village Grounds, 365 Saxonburg Blvd., Saxonburg (just off Route 228 East).
Details: 724-352-9922 or penns colony.com
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .