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Coal Miner's Heritage Festival slated Sunday

Published July 06. 2011 05:01PM

The 4th Annual Coal Miner's Heritage Festival is set for Sunday July 10, from 10 5 p.m., on the grounds of the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford, Carbon County. 'This unique annual event is a celebration of coal region history, culture, crafts, ethnicity, art, food, music, and the environment' according to Dale Freudenberger of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor who helps coordinate the event. The event has drawn several thousand visitors each year and is presented by the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum. Admission to the festival is free.

Underground tours of the No. 9 Coal Mine will be 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. The guided underground mine tours last approximately 45 minutes and are available throughout the day Visitors will ride into the mine in the safety of mine cars that are pulled by an original mine motor or engine. The nearby No. 9 Coal Mining Museum, housed in the original 1920's era miner's wash shanty, houses one of the largest and finest collections of anthracite coal mining artifacts, tools, photographs and memorabilia anywhere in the coal fields. Admission is charged for the coal mine and museum tour. Blacksmithing demonstrations will also be offered.

Many unique attractions and exhibits are offered as part of this year's Coal Miners Heritage Festival. In keeping with the theme, the coal miner's competition and demonstrations will be educational as well as fun. The public is invited to participate in the coal shoveling competition where competitors shovel a pile of coal in the shortest time. In past years, this had been a very competitive event drawing numerous competitors. Unique trophies will be awarded to the winners.

Visitors will enjoy posing 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 by volunteers at No. 9 and is proudly displayed on the grounds outside the museum.

Exhibitors and vendors will fill the grounds surrounding the museum offering a large variety of homemade and traditional crafts and sale items including coal region T-shirts and souvenirs, coal region artwork, regional history books, hand crafted jewelry, reproduction coal region photographs and maps, reproduction vintage signs, cast iron toys, stained glass creations, wood crafts, rocks, minerals and fossils, wooden whirligigs, antique toy coal trucks, and coal souvenirs to name a few.

Local artist Renee Novak will feature a life size painting on canvas titled 'Anthrasight' which will be displayed on the side of the loading platform near the mine entrance. Joseph Evanousky will display his original coal region art and prints done in charcoal, pen and ink, A special exhibit from the Frank Wyso art collection will also be exhibited. Local photographers will display and sell their beautiful works in nature and railroad photography.

A large variety of interesting and fun exhibits will highlight coal region heritage and culture. Included will be private exhibits of coal region ethnic and cultural memorabilia, local history memorabilia from the Lansford area, a display of antique coal company signs from all over northeast Pennsylvania, a large collection of antique beer trays advertising small town breweries in eastern PA, and WWI Coal advertising posters. Other exhibits include 19th century funeral practices in the region, a beautifully restored 1948 antique coal delivery truck from Heller Brothers on Northampton, a 1929 huckster truck, a 1933 Plymouth replica Coal & Iron Police car, a 1949 Chevrolet pickup truck selling bagged coal, and a 1946 Lincoln Zephyr. Mine Safety and Rescue displays, a restored vintage mine train, an antique moonshine still, the miners 'bath day' display and also 'wash day in the patch' display will ad to the festive atmosphere. The Victorian Hi-Wheelers will ride their vintage bicycles and perform during the day. The Francis Dorrance Archaeology Society will have a large display of artifacts from the region found at native American sites.

A variety of music typically found in the coal region will be featured throughout the day including a live broadcast of the WMGH Polka Joe Manjack show from 10 to 1 PM. Also featured will be the popular 'Breaker Boys' singing and performing coal region folk songs during the day, DJ Shawn will be playing the best of mining, railroad, bluegrass and polka music all day. Coal region vocalist Leilani Chesonis will also make a special appearance. An old time calliope will play its unique melodies.

Re-enactors from the Eckley Players will stroll the grounds in their authentic 'patch town' outfits, performing skits, telling stories, and sharing tales throughout the day. The Traveling Medicine Show will also entertain throughout the day. Reenactors will also perform a traditional Irish Wake for a deceased miner.

A variety of homemade, coal region, ethnic foods and festival favorites will be featured for sale including halupki, halushki, pierogies, potato pancakes, pulled pork, French fries, funnel cake, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, Posties Birch Beer, sno-cones, homemade fudge and chocolates, soft pretzels and more!

A variety of children's entertainment will be offered including the popular old time coal sack races with prizes for the winners. Buster the Clown will be making balloon animals for the children. Other offerings include a face painting, rock painting, and sand art.

Numerous local and regional organizations will be represented at the festival such as the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, Carbon County Navy Club, St. Lukes Hospital, DEP Mine Safety and Rescue Unit, Holmes Mine Safety Assn., Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Eckley Miners Village, Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad, Mauch Chunk Lake Park, Lansford Rotary, Lansford Historical Society, Lansford Fire Department, and Carbon County Labor Society.

The Miller-Keystone Blood Mobile will also be on hand allowing visitors to donate much needed blood while they visit the festival. The public is encouraged to help out during this important time y giving blood.

The Coal Miners Heritage Festival is supported in part by a grant from the Carbon County Commissioners and the County Room Tax Fund. To register as a participant, contact Dale Freudenberger at or by phone at 610-377-4063.

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