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Walnutport Canal Festival celebrates 30th anniversary

  • Pat DeVries displays some of her wheat weavings. She also had a Christmas tree decorated with wheat.
    Pat DeVries displays some of her wheat weavings. She also had a Christmas tree decorated with wheat.
Published October 19. 2010 05:00PM

The Walnutport Canal Festival, held last weekend, provides a showcase and fundraising site for scouts, historical societies, churches and more.

On Friday and Saturday there is Haunted Woods, with a 6K Towpath Trot on Saturday. There are storytelling sessions in the Locktender's House and hayrides.

On Sunday vendors, crafters and people who wish to exhibit the results of their interests line Lehigh and South Canal Street with their booths.

Sally Straub Getz said she and her husband grew up on opposite sides of Main Street in Weissport. He is a serious collector of historical photographs including some of Nathan Snyder, a private canal-boat builder. That is the one that caused his interest to blossom. The two buildings that held significant interest for him were torn down within the last 15 years.

Pat DeVries said she has been weaving wheat for about 20 years. "It is a very old craft with a lot of stories to go with it," she said

The Woman's Club of Slatington was selling the final tickets for its historical quilt. Members made the squares, Donna Gasser and Joann Sopos added strips around the squares and the quilting group from St. John's United Church of Christ did the quilting. The raffle winner was to be drawn the next day at the club's regular meeting.

The 100th anniversary of Boy Scouting was being promoted with scout uniforms back to the 1920s.

The Delaware and Lehigh Corridor people expect to complete the D&L trail from Laury's Station to Slatington and East Penn to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center in 2011.

Bill Merkle has an incredible collection of hand tools for working with wood, said his wife. She said they fill a two-story barn to the ceiling. He has been collecting for 40 years.

"His specialty is restoring homes. He started in Allentown, then Bethlehem and is working on an old farmhouse. He'll work till the day he drops dead. These things are irreplaceable," she said.

She remembers the Thos. Kern Lumber Company in Slatington.

"We lost a lot of history. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for our ancestors," she said.

Zouave Don Eckhart shows a Smith carbine that was used in the Civil War because it was faster to reload. He had several other reproduction models on display and showed visitors how to load them.

He is a member of an eight-man team that participates in competitive target shooting operating out of Revere, Pa. He was a commander. There are three to four shoots every year at the Springtown Rod and Gun Club.

Eckhart is proud of having a copy of an original recruiting poster for the Civil War.

Boy Scout Troop 58 was cooking fruit cobbler in dutch ovens. They dig up an area for their cooking but set the sod aside and replace it after the cooking is finished.

E.J. the Snakeman had 40 snakes in his collection but said he is down to 15. He had 12 cages with snakes and turtles at the canal festival.

Chris Stitzel of Weisenberg Township demonstrated sheep shearing. He showed how the fleece comes off in one piece. If the wood is placed in hot water the lanolin that was making the fleece yellowish will float to the top. After washing, the fleece is snow white.

The sheep was happy to jump back in the trailer with its friends as soon as it was released.

The Walnutport Fire Company was on site with its fire rescue truck providing first aid service. Along the street fire police members were providing traffic control.

Marilyn Kaul, a member of the canal festival committee, said the festival went very well with a great crowd. The Locktender's House was giving frequent tours with a line waiting. She was found looking at exhibits, though most of her time is spent at the House.

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