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Festival to celebrate coal region heritage and culture

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO Mine tours will be a part of the 5th Annual Coal Miners Festival Sunday in Lansford.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO Mine tours will be a part of the 5th Annual Coal Miners Festival Sunday in Lansford.
Published July 03. 2012 05:01PM

The 5th Annual Coal Miner's Heritage Festival is set for this Sunday, July 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the grounds of the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford.

"This unique annual event is a celebration of coal region history, culture, food, music, crafts, and ethnic heritage," says Dale Freudenberger, event coordinator.

The festival draws several thousand visitors each year and is presented by the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum. Admission to the festival grounds and parking are 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 1920s 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 festival. In keeping with the theme, the coal miner's competition is always a favorite. 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 be able to pose 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, and is 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.

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.

A large variety of exhibits will highlight coal region heritage and culture. Included will be local history memorabilia, one of the largest collections of antique coal company signs from the Anthracite region of Pennsylvania, a collection of antique beer trays advertising small town breweries in eastern PA, and World War I and World War II coal advertising posters.

Other exhibits include several unique antique vehicles, Mine Safety and Rescue displays, a restored vintage mine train, an antique moonshine still exhibit, the miners 'bath day' display, and the 'wash day in the patch' display.

There will be music typically found in the coal region featured throughout the day, including a live broadcast of the WMGH Polka Joe Manjack show from 10 to 1 p.m. There will be live music from 1-5 p.m. with the 'Lizard Creek Band' playing an interesting blend of folk music. Steve Stanislaw and Jerry Sweeney will perform from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. offering local, Molly Maguire, and coal region heritage tunes.

Reenactors from the Eckley Players will stroll the grounds in their authentic 'patch town' outfits, performing skits, telling stories, and sharing tales throughout the day. Dr. Kelly's Old time Traveling Medicine Show will also entertain throughout the day with his "interesting elixirs that cure any ailment for human or beast!"

A variety of homemade, coal region ethnic foods and festival favorites will be available.

Children's entertainment will be offered, including old time coal sack races with prizes for the winners. Buster the Clown will be making balloon animals for the children. Other offerings include panning for gemstones, face painting, glitter body art, rock painting, and sand art.

Numerous local and regional organizations will be represented at the festival such as the Carbon County Navy Club, DEP Mine Safety and Rescue Unit, Holmes Mine Safety Assn., Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Eckley Miners Village, Mauch Chunk Museum, Switchback Gravity Railroad Foundation, Mauch Chunk Lake Park, Lansford Historical Society, Lansford Alive, Lansford Fire Department, Summit Hill Community Improvement Organization, Summit Hill Heritage Center, and Carbon County Labor Society.

The Miller-Keystone Blood Mobile will be on hand. The public is encouraged to help out during this time of blood shortage by stopping by the bloodmobile the day of the festival and 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 Freudenberger at or by phone at (610) 377-4063.

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