Dynamic duo for local tourism
Al Zagofsky/TIMES NEWS Families enjoyed hayrides around the park during the Mauch Chunk Anthracite Heritage & Bluegrass Festival. The free hayrides took the visitors to the park along the historic Switchback Railroad trail.
An incredible day weather-wise played a huge role in the success of the fourth annual Mauch Chunk Lake Park Bluegrass and Anthracite Heritage Festival held on Saturday.
"We're very pleased with the turnout and we're very pleased with the weather," said David Horvath, park superintendent and a coordinator. "The weather helps provide us with the excellent turnout."
Seven bluegrass bands provided entertainment throughout the day and into the evening. Various historical groups, including the Leni Lenape tribe, held informational booths. There were activities for youngsters. Various types of foods were available.
"This is awesome," said Sheila Malamusky of Scranton, who said she heard about the event from a friend. "I'm glad I came. The music is wonderful and there's a lot to learn at the exhibits."
Besides wandering around in the festival area, those attending could venture to the beach where the Tuscarora Radio Control Club gave demonstrations with radio-controlled aircraft. Some at the beach not only decided to get in a little late-season tanning, but also got their feet wet as the water temperature was unseasonably warm.
Proving very popular were free hayrides, which took riders through the park to the Switchback trail.
An educational exhibit was put on by Frank Klock of the Carbon County Environmental Center. He displayed birds of prey, with about 100 people attending. Klock had a red tail hawk and an owl, but then near the end of his talk he surprised the spectators with a bald eagle.
"The people were really surprised when I brought out the eagle," he said. "It was a total surprise. They weren't expecting it."
Both Lansford and Summit Hill historical societies had stands with photos and memorabilia depicting the histories of the two communities.
The Carbon County 4-H Club proved a big hit for youngsters attending the festival. The club had small pumpkins and allowed children to paint them.
Numerous organizations used the event for fundraising. Members of the American Hose Company in Lansford made french fries, pierogies, and other foods. A Boy Scout troop sold food. Funnel cakes were also popular.
"It's been going pretty steady," said Lansford Fire Chief Joe Cannon of the attendance while working at his group's stand. "It's a beautiful day and the people came out."
Tony "T" Talarico of Jim Thorpe sat listening to blue grass music and sharing his french fries with his pet husky, Nugget.
"He loves the fries," Talarico said of Nugget.
Talarico said the music at the festival was very good, with some excellent musicians. Listening to the band Blue Roots, he remarked, "That is one of the best bands I ever heard."
Other bands performing were Jupiters Arrow, Texas Rose, Mason Porter, Coal County Express, The 3 of Us, and Jay Smar, the latter being a native of the local area who has penned several folk songs about the region.
Horvath said he feels the attendance was about the same as last year's event.
"We've been fine-tuning this over the years and I think it's been improved."
"This is an end of the summer season celebration for us," he added. "With bluegrass music and local heritage, we promote local history which promotes local tourism."