The threatening sky and bursts of rain did little to hamper the spirits of the attendees or the festivities hosted by the 8th annual Gathering on Saturday, which is the primary fundraiser for the Northern Lehigh Historical Society (NLHS). Most of the funds go towards continuing improvements along the Slate Heritage Trail in Slatington and Washington Township.
Pete Papay, Chairman of The Gathering Committee has worked tirelessly over the last eight years to ensure the event is a memorable one. "It's an annual event where people come and reunite with one another," said Papay, "It's a reunion." Papay also said The Gathering would not be possible if it were not for all of the hard work of the many volunteers who give countless hours to ensure its success. The day has just started and Papay is already thinking of ways to improve next year's event.
There are many amenities to enjoy, but the Spectacular SlatingtonDuck Race is one of the highlights. More than a thousand plastic ducks are set free in Trout Creek as they vie for first place. Ed Bechtel, Scoutmaster of Troop 58 along with a number of boy scouts from Troops 58 and 68 helped release and corral the ducks as they jostled towards the finish line. First prize was $1,000, won by Dick Snell of Palmerton.
The Gathering is a family event, catering to people of all ages. There were hay rides along the Slate Heritage Trail, music by singers Brian Skurski, John Ortiz and Mike Peters and entertainment by two bands, Jump Start and Good Friday. Folks enjoyed cold beer under the newly constructed pavilion in the Bier Garten and danced in the glow of a barn fire.
The crowd also enjoyed a variety of food, including Halupkies and Halushki favored by the locals. A large Chinese Auction attracted hundreds of people who hoped to win one of the baskets filled with quality products and gift certificates donated by local businesses and individuals.
The NLHS' Slate Heritage Trail project is supported by State Senator Dave Argall, and State Representatives Julie Harhart and Doug Reichley, who gathered to tap the first glass and pitcher of beer in the Bier Garten. When asked if they had any experience at 'tapping,' beer both Argall and Reichley, who is running for Judge in November, said they did. Argall said his first summer job was at the once popular Bavarian Festival and Reichley joked, "If I can drink it, I can tap it."
One of the highlights of the rainy evening was a spectacular fireworks presentation followed by more music and dancing.