Fort Ligonier Days celebrates 60th anniversary
Organizers of the 60th annual Fort Ligonier Days are rolling out the red carpet — or more specifically, the diamond bandstand — for the milestone anniversary.
Revelers will note more than $3.5 million in renovations to Diamond Park, the central locale for the three-day event that commemorates the Battle of Fort Ligonier, a key moment on Oct. 12, 1758 during the French and Indian War.
This year’s theme, “Preserving Ligonier’s History” celebrates the town-wide affair that has blossomed over six decades to become a source of pride for hometowners and eagerly anticipated by visitors from across the region.
More than 200 vendors are scheduled to dot the neighborhood from Market to Walnut streets, with a dizzying array of food, crafts, wine-tastings, acoustic entertainment and charging stations.
A shuttle will run the route all day, connecting shoppers with specialty items like hand-poured candles, dried flowers, paintings, stained glass, jewelry, leather, baskets, pottery and metal work.
An exciting lineup of entertainment is jam-packed into the schedule, from when gates open a 9 a.m. Oct. 11 ‘til closing at 6 p.m. Oct. 13.
Highlights include Celtic music, bluegrass and pop.
“Jay and the Americans” are the featured act and will perform a rock ‘n roll set at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the bandstand. Billed as one of the best vocal groups of the 1960s and 70s, the group had 12 Top 10 songs including “Come A Little Bit Closer” and “This Magic Moment.”
Food vendors will line the festival entrance from both East and West Main streets, hawking crab cakes, corn dogs and chicken in a cone. There will be smoked turkey legs, gyros, tacos and haluski to satisfy hungry appetites, and, truffles, crepes and cheesecake for sweet treats.
Fort Ligonier and the museum store will open its doors each day at 9 a.m. for people to peek around the historical site and listen to powerful stories about the way it changed the course of the war. General Forbes will be on hand with colonial toys and games for the kids.
An elaborate community parade will march down Main Street at 11 a.m. on Oct. 12, featuring historic units, period reenactors from the French and Indian Wars, decorated floats, costumed characters, horses, stagecoaches, the Shriner’s units and special guest, the University of Pittsburgh marching band.
The parade will be followed by artillery demonstrations and a reenactment of the 1758 battle, at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
On the grounds, people can find a living history encampment that depicts frontier life, military tactics, drills, cannon firing, redcoats, French troops, Indians, working ovens and music from 1758.
Fireworks will light up the night sky at 8:45 p.m.
On Sunday morning, people can hit the streets, starting at Ligonier Valley High School at 8:30 a.m. for a 5K walk/run and Kids’ Cannonball Dash that winds through the festival area and ends the school.
The day will unfold with more food, music and crafts before the closing ceremony at the Diamond.
Participants are likely to notice a shinier venue than in year’s past thanks to the money poured into the area.
The bandstand was upgraded with a stone veneer, wider stairs, new railings and a copper roof. At least 20 new trees, including Maple, Oak and Hackberry, were planted last year and the borough paid to install more seating in the area.
According to the website, festival-goers “will find friendly merchants, an impressive array of arts and crafts, lots of good music, authentic battle reenactments at Fort Ligonier, a spectacular Saturday parade and an endless supply of Ligonier Valley history and hospitality.”
Sponsored by Fort Ligonier Days. For more information, visit fortligonierdays.com.