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Community organizations return to Palmerton festival

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    The Carbon Model Railroad Society in Bowmanstown operates a model railroad display at the Palmerton Community Festival in a camper that was remodeled to look like a caboose. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published September 06. 2018 12:31PM

When the 29th Annual Palmerton Community Festival returns to the park Friday through Sunday, it’s an opportunity for community organizations to promote their work and fundraise.

“This year there are 29 nonprofit organizations who make up the uniqueness of the festival. We are not your typical fair but one large gathering of people coming to enjoy everything these groups have to offer,” said Susan Arner, president and chairwoman of the festival.

An operating model railroad display has been attracting festival guests for almost 20 years.

“Visitation to the display is almost nonstop. You can come up on the porch and view it,” said Garry Mack, president of Carbon Model Railroad Society in Bowmanstown.

Mack is referring to the camper that was remodeled to look like a caboose.

“It comes out in the summer” for fairs, festivals and other events, he said.

The outside of it opens up like a concession stand. The model railroad display is inside.

Mack fell in love with model trains as a kid, when his parents used to set up a platform around the Christmas tree each year.

“I got away from trains while building a family and a home, but then came back to trains 35 years ago,” he said.

In addition to viewing the model train, festival guests can purchase specialty T-shirts and custom-made model railroad cars named for towns in our area. Other model railroad items are also for sale. All proceeds support the society and their permanent display in Bowmanstown.

A highlight of the festival is the array of food.

“You can eat yourself into oblivion in those three days,” said Jane Borbe, president of the Palmerton Area Historical Society.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church’s mint ice tea and molasses cookies are two of her festival favorites to munch on while she’s manning the historical society’s “Covered Bridge Trailer” in the southeast corner of the park.

The society will be selling a variety of historical items such as Palmerton throws, centennial books, New Jersey Zinc Company silk ties and coasters, Palmerton’s First Fifty Years postcard book, tote bags, postcards in color and black and white, Zinc Magazine DVD, and Veterans Memorial Christmas balls.

“PAHS was fortunate in purchasing a number of old decommissioned street signs,” Borbe said. “These unique items were displayed on street corners for years and would make a wonderful piece of memorabilia for your rec room or yard!”

There will be some free items, as well.

“Sure, everyone loves the homemade food from these groups and the tasty treats, but you can’t deny many come for the friends, the conversations, and the sharing of stories and information,” Arner said.

The historical society has a lot of good news to share with visitors.

Since its inception in October 1990, “the PAHS has been very busy in preserving the town’s history,” Borbe said.

This year, Palmerton was awarded “National Historical District” for being a company town, she said. New Jersey Zinc Company was the town’s major employer for nearly a century.

PAHS’s Heritage Center, at 410 Delaware Ave. in Palmerton, is staffed by volunteers and open Wednesday through Saturday. Its Historical Archives are in the Palmerton Borough Hall.

The Zinc City Motorcycle Club, founded in 1952 and located in Kresgeville, will have five different games of chance under one tent.

“You can’t miss our blue tent. We’re across from the craft tent,” said Diane Schwartz, the club’s event coordinator.

Their festival profit helps to pay the club’s bills.

“It takes a lot to keep our club open, especially when four of our events are rained out,” said Schwartz.

Some remaining money will be donated to a needy family, she said.

The Aquashicola Fire Company will also have a small game of chance, with a Big Six Wheel, where players bet on a number they think the wheel will stop on.

“They can equal, double or triple the amount they wagered,” said Rory Koons, president of the fire company.

These four groups, along with the 25 others, “make the festival complete as a truly awesome community event,” Arner said.

The festival will be held rain or shine. Hours are 5-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Entertainment and parking are free.

For more information, visit or call Arner at 484-522-8899.

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