Great music, great weather, great turnout, great food, great exhibits, and great crafts all added up to one fantastic festival this past Saturday at Mauch Chunk Lake Park between Jim Thorpe and Summit Hill.
It was the "Bluegrass and Anthracite Heritage Festival" that attracted people of all ages and persuasions to one of the most beautiful natural settings around.
Events at the park are always an educational experience for old and young alike, and this past weekend's event achieved that with its promotion of local history and heritage, thanks to the efforts of park director Dave Horvath.
There was also plenty of just plain fun, with the music, vendors, and exhibitors.
Local history exhibitors included the Switchback Gravity Railroad Foundation, The Mauch Chunk Historical Society, the Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center, the Summit Hill Historical Society, the Dimmick Memorial Library, and St. Mark's Church in Jim Thorpe.
Environmental exhibitors included the Carbon County Environmental Education Center, the American Chestnut Foundation, the Anthracite Heritage Alliance, and the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
American Chestnut trees are planted on mine reclamation sites, where few other trees thrive, but they have been endangered by a blight brought into this country from overseas. The American Chestnut Foundation is working on developing a blight-resistant strain to help restore the tree to its once widespread range in this country.
There were also vendors with crafts such as wood crafts, yard ornaments, jewelry, paintings, photography, as well as several food vendors and much more.
For the younger set, there was rock painting, pumpkin painting, hula hoops, as well as free hayrides for children of all ages.
Highlighting the festival were the Bluegrass performers, who entertained the large crowds in attendance all day from 10 a.m. until 9:45 pm.
Nine different Bluegrass groups played at the festival. According to entertainment coordinator Pat McGeehan, some were returning groups from appearances at previous festivals, and some were new to the festival this year.
Bluegrass music is mostly acoustical instruments such as a banjo, mandolin, guitar, and sometimes fiddle and upright bass.
Adding an even more festive touch to the event, as the evening chill moved in after sunset, was the social bonfire on the park grounds.
The 3rd Annual Bluegrass and Anthracite Heritage Festival truly did have something for everyone.