Thousands of visitors took part in the 5th Annual Coal Miner's Heritage Festival Sunday at the No. 9 Mine and Museum in Lansford.

The event consisted of a large variety of exhibits that highlighted coal region heritage and culture. Many unique attractions and exhibits were offered as part of this year's festival. In keeping with the theme, the coal miner's competition was a popular favorite, in which the public was invited to participate in the coal shoveling competition, where competitors shovel a pile of coal in the shortest time. Unique trophies were awarded to the winners.

Numerous local and regional organizations were also represented at the festival such as the Carbon County Navy Club, DEP Mine Safety and Rescue Unit, Holmes Mine Safety Association, Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Eckley Miners Village, Mauch Chunk Museum, Switchback Gravity Railroad Foundation, Mauch Chunk Lake Park, Lansford Historical Society, Lansford Alive, Lansford Fire Department, Summit Hill Community Improvement Organization, Summit Hill Heritage Center and Carbon County Labor Society.

"This unique annual event is a celebration of coal region history, culture, food, music, crafts, and ethnic heritage," says Dale Freudenberger, event coordinator.

In addition to exhibitors and vendors offering a large variety of homemade and traditional crafts and food, underground tours of the No. 9 Coal Mine were also available throughout the day.

"No. 9 is the world's oldest deep mine, having been opened in 1855 by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company and closed in 1972," Freudenberger said.

The nearby No. 9 Coal Mining Museum, housed in the original 1920s era miner's wash shanty, housed one of the largest and finest collections of anthracite coal mining artifacts, tools, photographs and memorabilia anywhere in the coal fields.

Blacksmithing demonstrations were also offered.

Visitors were able to pose for photos by historic mine lokie No. 51, once owned and operated by Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company in the Panther Creek Valley. The lokie has been cosmetically restored, and is displayed on the grounds outside the museum.

Visitors to the mine tours were treated to a life-size painting on canvas titled 'Anthrasight,' by local artist Renee Novak, which will be displayed on the side of the loading platform near the mine entrance.

Other exhibits included several unique antique vehicles, Mine Safety and Rescue displays, a restored vintage mine train, an antique moonshine still exhibit, the miners 'bath day' display, and the 'wash day in the patch' display.

Special music artists featured throughout the day included a live broadcast of the WMGH Polka Joe Manjack show, the 'Lizard Creek Band' playing an interesting blend of folk music and Steve Stanislaw and Jerry Sweeney performing local Molly Maguire and coal region heritage tunes.

Reenactors from the Eckley Players were also seen strolling the grounds in their authentic 'patch town' outfits, performing skits, telling stories, and sharing tales throughout the day. Entertaining a crowd was Dr. Kelly's Old time Traveling Medicine Show who explained his elixirs that claim to cure any ailment for human or beast.

Children enjoyed an old time coal sack races, with prizes for the winners. Buster the Clown was also at the event making balloons for visitors. Other popular attractions consisted of panning for gemstones, face painting, glitter body art, rock painting and sand art.

The Coal Miners Heritage Festival is supported in part by a grant from the Carbon County Commissioners and the County Room Tax Fund.