Zelie fall festival draws 15K to area
ZELIENOPLE — Rain threatened to put a damper on the 32nd annual Country Fall Festival over the weekend.
However, the weather held off for the more than 15,000 people who shared in the festivities.
“Thank God it held off,” festival organizer Ethel Mae Hall said of the bad weather. “The main thing is seeing all the families have a good time together. That’s my favorite part.”
People both local and out of town visited the borough and neighboring Harmony for the two-day festival, partaking in all it had to offer.
“This was last-minute for us,” said Jamie Campopiano of Sharpsburg. “It’s entertaining for the kids.”
She and her family enjoyed the food and horse rides.
“There is a lot to do here,” said Heather Aubrey of Butler. “They (organizers) did a nice job of putting everything together.”
The festival was not only a source of entertainment, but also an opportunity to learn about local history.
Members of the Independent Mountain Men Living History Society Inc. made their encampment in Four Corners Park on the corner of Main Street and West Grandview Avenue.
“We always have a great time here,” said Ed Kavulic of Pittsburgh. “They (festival organizers) take good care of us.”
The mountain men showed festival-goers what it was like to live in the 1800s by sleeping in teepees, cooking their own food and having antique items on display.
One of their popular attractions was a tomahawk throwing target.
“Kids love throwing the tomahawks,” Kavulic said. “A lot of people don’t know about their local history.”
One family who threw tomahawks at a log target were the Ippolitos.
“We enjoy this little town,” Frank Ippolito said.
He, his wife Donna and three grandchildren visited the area from West Deer Township.
Another historical group that settled for the weekend was the 101st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
The group had Civil War-era items on display, with members dressing in Union Army uniforms.
“We’ve been coming here for 17 years now. It’s a great event,” members Ed Boots of Fombell said. “Ethel Mae (Hall) does great.”
Hall said the historical groups are some of her favorite attractions of the festival.
“We like to keep a variety of things,” Hall said
Music was also a staple feature of the festival.
Over a dozen musical acts performed throughout the area, such as the Tony Barge Country Showcase, who performed Saturday afternoon in Four Corners Park.
“Its’ wonderful,” guitarist and band namesake Tony Barge said of the festival. “We’ve come here for many years. There’s always people.”
The second annual musical jubilee was held at the Spring Street parking lot.
Acts included the Dan Hulse Banjo Minstrel Show, The North Star Kids, Waldo Young and Johnny Calinger.
The sight of fall mums, pumpkins and gourds also filled the streets along with crafts vendors and a farmers market.
About 250 classic cars visited Harmony for the annual car cruise at the Creekside Plaza.
Hall herself was busy helping with the festival despite being confined to a mobile chair. She was managing the bounce castle on Spring Street, which saw about 600 kids come through by Saturday afternoon.
“I think I’ve seen more children here than ever before,” Hall said.
She said she plans to continue to organize the festival “one year at a time.”
“I’m blessed with each year,” she said. “It’s very good. We want people to come.”
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