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Heritage Festival Friday & Saturday

May 20, 2008

May 23/24 are the days of the local Anthracite Heritage Festival here in Shamokin. This event, a kind of historical/reminiscence/nostalgic type of thing, has been an annual attraction since 2006, at which time I had a minimal interest in Shamokin history so I didn’t attend–in fact I didn’t even know it was going on, I suppose because I was in the middle of relocating at the time. Last year, however, I did hear about it and attended, but thought it was rather a bore. The fact is there was no official schedule and I had to go puttering through week-old newspapers at the library to find out what was going on, and inevitably I missed a lot. Basically, what I saw was an infestation of vendors camped out on the median of Market Street, selling crafts and novelties, and a very noisy bandstand–by the firehouse, was it?–playing rather forgettable music most of the time. At CareerLink (courthouse, career center combination), which used to be an old high school, ancient film reels from the Diamond Jubilee parade of 1939 were playing in the former auditorium. Rather dull. I heard there was a cemetery tour going on, but I thought, why trek morbidly through a cemetery, I know who’s buried there.

I was not aware that there was also a tour going on of the church in which a couple I was researching were married 110 years before. Had I known that, you can be sure I would have hastened myself there directly, and I would have been much more pleased with the outcome of the festival overall. But…I did not learn this until several months later while browsing an online archive of recent local newspapers. If they had put out a more complete and easy to find schedule (which it is becoming apparent they are not doing this year either), I would have been much more appreciative. Anyway, enough of my complaints.

There are tours of local churches this year as well, and the cemetery tour will feature the usual reenacters–area thespians portraying prominent Shamokinites of the past, another thing I was unaware of last year. I intend to be at both events, now with my convenient camera phone should a need for it arise.

The weather here is deplorable for May; rain and clouds for most of the last few weeks, I haven’t been counting exactly. With any luck there will be sun soon or the festival could get derailed somewhat; hope not.

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