Coal region heritage celebrated
Dressed in period attire, Eckley Players, left to right, Moria Petchel, Vincent Kundrik, and Barbara Kundrik were among the participants who strolled about the grounds and put on skits about the lives of coal miners and their families.
A "Celebration of Coal Region Heritage and Culture," the third annual Coal Miner's Heritage Festival, was held Sunday on the grounds of the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford under clear-blue summer skies.
Dale Freudenberger, director of the No. 9 Mine, was "very pleased with the good turnout for the day and for the beautiful weather that the festival enjoyed".
He noted that there were about 80 vendors present for the event and they filled the grounds surrounding the museum offering a large variety of homemade and traditional crafts, artwork, photography, gift items, coal region T-shirts, and local history books, to name just a few of the things available.
Also present were a number of antique motor vehicles, including a 1948 White Hi-Lift Coal truck from Keller Brothers Coal & Fuel Oil of Northampton.
There was also a wide variety of homemade Coal Region ethnic foods and festival favorites such as halushki, pierogies, potato pancakes, corn-on-the-cob, french fries, funnel cake, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, homemade fudge and chocolates, fresh strawberry short cakes, waffles and ice cream, soft pretzels, and more.
Among the entertainment for children were a variety of games which included an old time coal sack race, Buster the Clown making balloon animals for the children, face painting, and a moon bounce.
For adults, there was a coal shoveling competition for anyone willing to brave the warm Sunday weather to show their prowess at shoveling coal - a half ton of it.
The Victorian Highwheelers of Tamaqua also were on hand to ride their vintage high-wheeled bikes.
The local history memorabilia included a display of antique coal company signs from all over Northeast Pennsylvania and a large collection of antique beer trays advertising small-town breweries in eastern Pennsylvania.
Music typical of the coal region was featured throughout the day, including a live broadcast of the WMGH Polka Joe Manjack show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
New to the festival this year was an old time air-powered Calliope, mounted on a truck playing music from the 20s and 30s.
Also on hand to entertain visitors were the Eckley Players, who strolled about the grounds in period clothing and put on skits re-enacting scenes from the lives of coal miners and their families.
The No. 9 Coal Mine is the world's oldest deep mine, having been opened in 1855 by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, and closed in 1972.
In addition to all that the Coal Miner's Heritage Festival had to offer, tours of the No. 9 Mine and the Coal Mine Museum were also popular with festival goers.
Approximately 700 mine tours were taken by the thousands of visitors who came to the heritage festival.
In stressing the importance of the many people who volunteered their time and efforts to help out, Administrative tour guide Jan LeVan said that "the one word in 'community' is 'unity' that makes it work, and without the volunteers showing up faithfully and giving a good honest hard-day's work, No. 9 Mine would not be able to keep the doors open."
She went on to add that "it's their combined efforts and working together as a team that keeps No. 9 Mine alive."
The Miller Keystone bloodmobile was on hand to allow visitors to donate much needed blood while they visited the festival.
The 100th anniversary of St. Luke's Miner's Memorial Medical Center was also observed.
The hospital, which opened in 1910, was originally called the Panther Creek Valley Hospital.
The hospital was established by the coal miners themselves, with each coal miner donating a day's wages to get the hospital started.