The Tamaqua Historical Society will present its 28th Annual Tamaqua Heritage Festival on Sunday, Oct. 14 in downtown Tamaqua from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. The annual event celebrates the fall foliage season in the community that historically has served as a 'Gateway to the Anthracite Region.'
The festival encompasses about seven blocks of downtown Tamaqua, all within the Tamaqua National Historic District. Thousands flock to the popular event each year to celebrate local history and culture. For many who attend the festivals in Tamaqua, it is a time of homecoming to get together with family and friends who they have not seen since the last festival. Many stay for the weekend with family or friends and visit the festivals together.
Railroads are a big part of Tamaqua's heritage. Railroad attractions featured during the festival include an open house at the restored 1874 Tamaqua Railroad Station, which will give visitors an opportunity to see the local landmark. The restored station re-opened to the public in 2004 following its extensive restoration by Tamaqua Save Our Station (SOS) organization.
In addition to the businesses inside the station, Tamaqua SOS will display rare original newspapers from the Molly Maguire era.
A unique 'steam whistle blow' will take place near the Five Points intersection with Brian Ference, who will display and operate his large collection of original antique steam railroad whistles, including some new acquisitions this year. The Tamaqua Anthracite Model Railroad Club will hold an open house at its headquarters at the corner of West Broad and Nescopeck streets. Their display includes a huge operating HO model train layout.
There will be no fall foliage train rides at the festival this year due to a schedule conflict with the Reading & Northern Railroad Company.
Approximately 100 crafters and vendors are expected to line the festival route, offering everything from handcrafts, to jewelry, woodcrafts, holiday decorations, artwork, needle crafts, clothing items and more.
Historical tours will be offered at the 1801 Moser log home, the first home in Tamaqua, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the rear of 302 East Broad St. Admission is free.
The historical society will offer a historical walking tour of East Broad Street beginning at 1 p.m. at the Depot Square Park near the Five Points intersection. The free tour will discuss landmarks along the way and focus on what this area of town looked like during the 19th century and how it has changed since then. The tour will last approximately 90 minutes. Anyone interested should meet near the Five Points by the park.
Blacksmith Don Campbell will be working at the forge and demonstrating his blacksmithing skills in the 1848 Hegarty Blacksmith Shop throughout the day. Blacksmith Chris Opresko will assist him. The blacksmith shop is located along Hegarty Avenue, and was owned and operated by three generations of the Hegarty family from 1848 until 1973. It was the oldest operating business in Schuylkill County when it closed. Admission is free.
The Tamaqua Historical Society Museum, located in the former 1905 First National Bank Building, will be open for visitors. Many interesting displays and exhibits on Tamaqua's local heritage are featured in the museum. The society will begin major renovations to the interior of the museum in the coming months. Stop by to see the exhibits before the renovation project gets under way.
Dr. Kelly's Old Tyme Traveling Medicine Show will be offering programs throughout the day along the sidewalk near the train station. Autumn decorating supplies, fresh apple cider, and homegrown produce will be available at two Autumn Harvest Markets the day of the festival. Horse-drawn Trolley Car rides pulled by Leiby's famous Belgian Draft Horses will be offered around the festival area. This popular ride originated at the Tamaqua Heritage Festival many years ago and has become a staple at many festivals throughout the region.
Always a popular addition to the festival is the Tamaqua Street Machine Association antique and classic car show on South Railroad Street. The car show draws many beautiful and historic automobiles from all over the region. Registrations are accepted the day of the event beginning at 10 a.m. Awards will be presented at 3 p.m. and a disc jockey will provide music during the day.
Military Timeline reenactors will represent the War of 1812, The Civil War, World War I and World War II with displays and demonstrations on West Broad Street near the American Legion Home.
A variety of entertainment will be offered at various locations downtown during the day, including music by Shane and Livi, the harmonies of The Quartet of Five, WMGH Radio live Polka Program with Polka Joe Manjack, and DJ Brandon Fritz.
The new Tamaqua Community Arts Center at 125 Pine St., across from the Family Dollar shopping center, will present its First Annual Fall Arts and Music Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Live musical performances will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., the art exhibit is open from 10 a.m.to 6 p.m., and there will also be games and prizes during the day.
The legendary 'Breaker Boys' will stroll throughout the festival performing their traditional folk songs and ballads from days past in the coal region, with humorous historical anecdotes thrown in for good measure. The Eckley Players will also be on hand dressed in 19th century costumes typical of mining patch towns a hundred years ago. Eckley will also present a display of coal mining memorabilia representing the area's local roots.
Many local organizations will also participate in the Heritage Festival with fundraising stands selling food, baked goods, calendars, and much more. Many food vendors will be offering homemade foods and festival goodies throughout the festival route.
For further information about the Tamaqua Heritage Festival, call the Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce office at (570) 668-1880.