Sunday, September 27, 2015

Local and Regional Festivals

 People sit around and sigh, saying there isn't enough to do here anymore. Well actually, there is plenty of things to get to around our region and I'm going to point the way.

Here's a brief rundown on some of the exciting festivities going on this fall, beginning with Westmoreland County and moving on to Fayette and whatever others are to be included.

courtesy of Discover Ohiopyle

     A brief note about The Scottdale Fall Foliage Festival.  This took place just last weekend, so I'll pass on giving details at  this time around. This pertains to most of the festivals from earlier in September, or are already well underway.

    Secondly, Fort Ligonier Days with its frontier reconstructions, many band venues, exciting reenactments and artillery demonstrations among other loaded attractions in a 3 day extravaganza from Oct. 9th through the 11th, is going to be covered in a prominent article in the very near future. For this very reason,  'Fayette/Westmoreland Forgotten History' will forego involved descriptions, except to give a few hints, starting with state parking for the 'Loyalhanna Post' is only allowed at the High School and the Laurel Valley Golf Club on Rt. 711 south and please try to arrange your visit to experience the reenactments with the Indian war whoops and the blasts of muskets and cannon of the November skirmish on the afternoons of the 10th and the 11th!

    The Bedford Fall Foliage Festival, which has arts, crafts, food, (with over 400 booths), and of course, entertainment, kicks off on Octobet 3-4, and continues on the 10th-11th. You can call 1-814-624-311 for more information. Directions are 2 miles from the PA Turnpike exit 146 on Business Route 30, alright?

   The Compass Inn in the Ligonier Valley at Laughlintown: Three miles east of Ligonier on Route 30 is where you'll find the anciet site. According to,  the Compass Inn was a stage coach stop from 1799, and will give all an informative and entertaining tour. Popular until the railroad days, the historic place was purchased by Robert Armor in 1814 and then given its proper name.

   Now it has been restored and refurnished with fascinating period furniture and is owned by the Ligonier Valley Historical Society. This is a pretty intensive tour and with all the old bedrooms, cookhouse and blacksmith's shop and outbuildings, and would be a great way to spend the day. They even have a Conestoga wagon!  Check out their concerts and field trips as well. Don't forget the Halloween Hauntings of the 30th and 31st to give some spine tingling thrills!

   Bushy Run Battlefield:  It all began on August 5, 1783 and you do know how it ended, don't you? I have more of the story at this link: 'Turning Tides At Bushy Run'. This very historically important location experienced their 250th Anniversary in 2013. Check out their site for tickets and further information. You can also book group tours. Maybe give in and 'buy a brick' for the upcoming planned monument from the Edgehill Gift Shop! There will be 3 granite and 3 bronze statues and monuments representing the American, British and Native Indian forces that were deeply involved in the battle fought here. There is a Nature Walk on Saturday at 10 a. m. on September 26, so maybe you want to keep this in mind for 2016.

    Sewickley will be having their Octoberfest all day in the month of, you guessed it!, October! This will be on the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd. There is an admission charge of $10. More can be read about it HERE.

    Somerset had the Laurel Arts Somerfest July 17-19 on 214 South Harrison Avenue.

   Connellsville: The Autumn Mum Festival on the first Saturday of September. Did you miss this one? Well...catch it next year!

   There's the PumpkinFest at Confluence, PA Friday thru Sunday, October 2nd-4th. They'll be judging the largest pumpkin, parades, Pie Eating contests, the Rod Classic Auto Show and I wouldn't dare forget to mention the Great Pumpkin Race! This sounds like a good one to check out, and if this isn't enough to get you interested, there is the Car Smash. Cool! I would recommend the festival for sure and, if time permits, really would like to get on down there.

   Bullskin Township has the Heritage Days Festival:  This is at the Mount Vernon Furnace Grounds on 484 Park Road off of Rt. 982 and takes place on Oct. 17 and 18th from 8:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. and 2015 will be the 19th annual event. The historic furnace, once owned by Isac Meason, the Iron Monger, is steadily being upgraded to better reflect what is believed to be the original appearance. Quite a task. This is a nice homey, yet sometimes fascinating festival to go to. It tends more toward a colonial theme with arts and historic talks and a whole lot more. Parking is free at the nearby township fairgrounds.

courtesy of

    Pike Days- Brownsville at Nemacolin Castle with ghost tours in mid-May is something to check out mostly toward spring.

    The Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival: of August 16 and 17 was said to of been a lot of fun. A fairly new festival from 2008...from Laurel Hill State Park and the Friends of Laurel Hill.

  This might be as good of a place as any for me to state once and for all, I don't have any plans for the blog to become a travelogue of sorts. Nothing to worry about there. Still, during this season of cooler temperatures amid amazing vistas of historic import and special beauty, many other happenings are taking place all over the surrounding communities worth your consideration to head out to see for yourselves. Check listings online and at sites below. You will likely discover exactly what you are looking for to join in the magnificent celebrations and many other places, like Nemacolin Woodlands, the various wineries and hiking spots. That might well include hotel or camping accommodations, and parking and choosing picnic areas. Find a special nook and pass it on!

   Event Crazy has a nice site for checking further into the many local and national festivities by month and date. You may want to give it a go. One of the best websites I know of is Take a peek at their Map Explorer too. You'll find it helpful.

  The time is NOW, the wonders of Fayette and Westmoreland counties and our Southwestern Pennsylvania region are waiting for your attention and are out there to enjoy. Trust me folks! So take a break and pack up the car and gather the kids for some adventure and make a little history of your own. 

Old Bedford Village covered bridge (creative commons)

   Did I miss any important festivals that are family favorites or YOU are really partial to? Please leave a comment and tell me more about it. If they are as interesting as you feel, they can be always be added later.

  Just maybe, I will get to see and meet you at one of the festivals, you never know!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Summer's Waning Pastimes


  It's good to be back with you.

  Yes, it is a bit sad as we clearly notice our summer of 2015 has a minimal life span left to it. 'The seasons change and so do I'. Here in Westmoreland and Fayette counties of Southwestern Pennsylvania, autumn will soon sneak up on all of us with the leaves of the trees slowly turning a glorious golden and red, cooler evenings, and pumpkins!

   We do have some sweet precious warmth left to enjoy, so let us make the most of it!

   This time around I decided to forego the regular theme for the youthful years of the 1960's and 70's, bringing to your consideration a take at a more lighthearted approach.

   This mid-September post should remind the middle aged and over guys and gals the way we had fun back in those heady days of the last century. And since my USB was acting up with my camera program, (it's a long story), I really needed to delete many of the old useless photos and videos, so I frustratingly ended up chucking some of the summer photos I was going to upload here for the blog. Re-format, the whole nine yards. Come to think of this, maybe this is really better to use our imaginations for a change. I still allowed a few basic photos anyway.

   Now, one thing we use to do as children was fly a kite. Cheap ones made with glue and small pieces of wood, you know. In our early teens pinball was also a big item.  'Flipped Out' and 'Magic Carpet' come to mind as old favorites. To tell the truth I was darn good at it.  Later, when we discovered the opposite sex and had our first dates, soon following with our first cars and first jobs; Chevy's, Mustangs or hopefully, muscle cars. After this we were soon whisking off to the drive-in and, ah...that's right, this is geared more toward childhood. Period. Well, OK.

     Time For Some Choice ANECDOTES

      Are you old enough to recall with some nostalgia the summer pastimes like pinwheels and riding bikes with the colored balloons we would attach to the spokes? Mine was a hand me down from my older brother. I just loved it.

    When we were kids, many of us boys, along with my brothers, use to have a blast playing army. Is this politically incorrect now a days? Oh well. Regardless, just imagine young people, our guns, rifles and pistols, even machine guns, looked like real guns and there were some cool sound effects and if nothing else, the cap guns were pretty loud. Usually this involved a sand pile, old coal area, slag heap, whatever we could find to hide in and not be chased out of. That didn't happen often. People weren't so touchy back then, were they? Unless someone really caused trouble. Can you believe we didn't become radicals or end up hurting anyone either? Nope.

    Some of the girls loved the dolls-not just Barbie, but there were many others. Any females recall the Easy Bake oven? They could actually bake pies and cakes! I'm not expert on the girl stuff, so we'll have to be brief on that. Sorry ladies.

    There were pogo sticks and I barely recall the hula hoop craze...those were a little before my time,  folks. Throwing frisbee was almost a national pastime. For a fairly simple pleasure we sure enjoyed it. Jumping around, catching the 'Whamo' behind your back and between the legs. Brings the memories again alright.

    When we were early teen youngsters, some of us would occasionally sneak into a few neighbors yards and take peaches from the small orchards; peppers from one of them! Pilfering, I think it was called. Maybe they tasted better that way, I don't know. Watermelons would of been a delicacy. Luckily, my dad always grew a garden, although I didn't really take that trait from him. Apples, especially crab apples, use to grow along side the roads. Oh sure. A nice snack anytime. You didn't want to eat too many or it was  a tummy ache problem!

    Sometmes my grandmother would make apple and cherry pies. She was absolutely superb at baking. Well, her cooking was unbeatable. Real German fare. Speaking of my 'Nan', Ida Hoover, I guess I wasn't cut out for picking flowers. I picked many of her prize roses and a neighbor's too once. Oh, I gave them the flowers in a nice container, you know. They didn't get  too mad, but they gave me some seriously odd looks. SO I quit that habit fast, having no actual clue why it developed at all.

  Swimming holes in a nearby lake or stream were very popular too. Otherwise my Mom use to take us to Briercheck's on the west side of Scottdale on the weekends. My dad would go too sometimes. He was an expert swimmer. The attraction area, with a large circular pool, lake swimming and boating, and picnicking, was originally named Lake Forest-Park in the early 1930's. Wouldn't you know, I almost drowned there when I first tried to upgrade from the kiddie pool to the adult section? Couldn't swim worth a lick for many years. Suddenly,later in life it just 'came to me', and I was soon able to gracefully go along with no effort on my back, just using my hands a bit and my toes. This use to be a big happening place for locals, that was one of the names,of the local KQV radio station with songs like 'Come On Down To My Boat Baby', A Little Bit of Soul','Born To Be Wild'; all the 60's songs were played loudly and enthusiastically.

    Then, sometimes we would swim out near the Pleasant Valley Country Club in Bullskin at the little spillway. That's when we weren't busy fishing for trout, bass and catfish.  Little did we know then this was near the mill race of Spruce and 'little' Spruce Run where back toward the late 1700's when old Adam Hatfield owned land here. Guess what? He was supposedly an ancestor of ours. I believe this is correct. Indeed, playing on our g, g, g, g, great grandparents' old property. Didn't inherit any of it, no, not a square yard. But we sure had fun swimming in the deeper pools.

   The funny thing was, we were one of the few families that had a backyard pool, maybe about 12 x 12, but we could soon swim in it. I know, some of you weren't quite fortunate enough to really have a backyard. Those had to be tough breaks. Of course, the pool wasn't too deep, or I would of surely drowned and sucked in a bunch of water, end of story. That is if my Mom or grandmother wasn't nearby, and they always were. Good Parents.
   There were these nice little neighborhood stores in those days too. One of which was owned by Darrel Eicher. An old Clover Farm store. One time, when his friend and employee old Brooksy, was tending the store for him, he would sometimes close a bit early. This was a Friday evening. I counted on the time being accurate and at 5 minutes til 6 p. m. I was up there 'promptly' with my allowance and quickly felt very upset since the big green door was closed and locked up. I soon became irate. I took a tantrum and kicked at the door, knowing Mr. Eicher was close by smoking a stubby cigar and would hear the noise. Finally, it opened a crack and he agreed, (reluctantly), to let this rambunctious little fellow in for a minute to quickly buy my weekend ration of goodies. Thanks, now bye!!!

    Tree climbing was a national habit in the 60's. Oh yes, Maples, oaks, especially the walnuts that my grandpap, Meryl WIlson had on his Wooddale property, which was once a part of the neglected Spaugy mill tract. We were at it a lot when we visited, building tree houses, fancy ones, primitive ones, you name it. Do you see these much anymore, unless rarely? The modern kids don't know what they are missing. Take a snack or two and a pop, surveying your special domain. Walkie talkies were a nice item for 'secret' communications in a club house atmosphere.

   Counting cars. Actually, it was more often about the colors. We had them all back then, you see. Yellow, orange, green, red, every shade you can dream of. Pick a color, your favorite, and then go about to 10 or so, and see who wins. You didn't really win anything. You'd likely lose next time. YES, this was fun. Closely connected to this was sitting on the porch swings. Sure, we were simple people, these years long gone past. Practically every front of a house possessed one too We can fondly recall the August evenings when it would begin to cool off and the neighborhood hum would die down. Again, it was our tenderhearted grandmother, Ida Hoover, who lived a few houses down, she would get us to sit and behave for an hour or so. Just quietly sitting and talking low, watching the stars, the  and maybe humming along once in a while. Sentimental. I am, it's freely admitted right here!

    Do you remember Town Talk bread? Maybe Tiger Bread? Orange Crush, Lehi Cherry too. The prices were good too. Believe me when I say, this really was a phenomenal decade and a half to grow up in! The little half pints of ice cream. Uh-huh. I could go on and on, but you probably get the idea.

    There is so very much more I could divulge for your mental consumption. These are some of the  things I thought of just recently, so my burst of creativity here will have to make due for the time being.

   To sum up, I hope this has given you a taste, a small presentiment of the kinds of things we did back in our wonderful childhood. Most of it was very good. No, not all the time. We spent YEARS and YEARS in school and they could paddle you back then! This might of brought back a jog in your memory, or if you are too young for this, an inkling, just an inkling, of how fun and innocent those heady days truly were. Yes, sadly, neighborhoods have changed, many wonderful people die off. Prices, homey ways, habits too. But not everything is bad. Kids can still be kids for a while and maybe enjoy a Hostess cupcake!


   A heartfelt thanks for visiting and sharing a touch of nostalgia and reminiscing with yours truly-Histbuffer. I'll have a Winter Activity post up in about , three or four months to keep an eye out for. In the mean time, there will be much bigger fish to fry. I'm certainly not out of ideas.

    Remember, you can now FOLLOW me on Facebook at

   *Take care, and relish the fall season!*

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