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For these guys, festival lasts much longer than a week

| Thursday, July 29, 2004

KITTANNING — Next week, thousands of people will gather in Riverfront Park to enjoy the Fort Armstrong Folk Festival.

But what most people don't realize while they are walking through the park looking at crafts, eating the plethora of food items, and socializing with friends and family, is the work that goes into making it all happen.

Andy Rock, president of the festival association, and a handful of others have been working for 2 weeks setting up tents, running electrical power and making sure everything is ready for the onslaught of visitors to the park.

“It's actually pretty simple to set things up,” Rock said. “We've been doing this for so long that we don't have any major problems.”

“We always have minor things that come up, but most of the problems are solved long before the festival starts,” he said.

Rock said the entire process takes about a month, including the two-week setup, the week of the event and a week to tear down afterward.

Michael Nanney, also on the festival board, said the hard work that goes into the setup is more a labor of love for Kittanning Borough and the people.

“It's all worth it when you look down Water Street on Friday night and see the amount of people,” Nanney said. “We get between 80,000 to 100,000 people in town in five days.”

Since 1997, most of the electrical power for the festival has been run underground and the crews must string overhead wires to supply power to the crafters and various nonprofit groups lining the park.

“It's like stringing giant extension cords to all the booths,” Rock said. “With the major power supply underground, we don't have as many problems with transformers and poles as we did in the past.”

Scott Heasley, director of the YMCA, spent part of yesterday evening on a ladder installing fans and lights in the food pavilion located across from Arch Street.

“The money raised by the festival association's food tents is split between the Jaycees and the Y Men,” he said. “The money is used in the community, and much of the money from the Y Men goes into equipment and repairs to the YMCA.”

When asked what the major problems are with setting up and tearing down all the electrical wires and tents, the response from all three men was the same: help.

“We have about 8 people who do most of the work,” Rock said. “We always can use a few more hands to help get it all done.”

Anyone wishing to volunteer is asked to stop in the pavilion at 6 p.m. any night before, during and after the festival.

Patrick Shuster can be reached at pshuster@tribweb.com.

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