Washington Township event draws with entertainers, games, activities
WASHINGTON TWP. — Organizers of the Fort Hand Festival said on Sunday that they were pleased with the growing interest in the annual event and its base at Kunkle Park.
Festival organizer Lisa Carnahan of Washington Township said she had to turn away vendors this year, meaning Kunkle Park was full of food, carnival games, entertainers and activities for children and adults during the festival's three-day run, which started Friday.
Carnahan said the event raises money for the township-owned park. It has helped to pay for new pavilions, a concession stand, playground equipment and a volleyball court.
Carnahan said the next task is improving a walking trail.
Township Supervisor Joe Olszewski, also a festival organizer, said part of the trail has a steep grade that should be made more accessible to walkers. It is in a less developed portion of the 40-acre park. Depending on the amount raised, work could begin next spring.
Olszewski said the group would like to add pavilions because the three existing shelters often are occupied every summer weekend.
The festival is named for Fort Hand, a late 1700s stockade once located nearby on Pine Run Church Road. The fort was used to protect pioneers from Indians; it was destroyed in an attack in 1779.
Carnahan said the festival includes re-enactments of the battle every three years; 2011 was the last re-enactment.
But even without a mock battle, visitors had plenty to experience. Sunday's entertainment included music by the Kiski Valley Community Band, Christian rocker Kurt Shirey, accordion player Ed Kolakowski and a clown.
Carnahan said the festival benefitted from good weather this year. The exception was a brief storm Saturday night that chased away some people waiting for a fireworks display, which was set to music for the first time.
She said the festival also helps attract visitors to the park year-round and inform people of the area's history. She said many people aren't aware of the park or the fort.
“Fort Hand — it's right in your backyard,” Carnahan said.
Ann Getty of Washington Township said she often brings her children, Hannah, 7, and Jack, 5, to the park, which they often find to be empty.
“We can walk here from our house,” Getty said. “It's a beautiful park.”
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or email@example.com.