Tamaqua celebrates heritage
30th annual festival set for Sunday in Tamaqua
T he Tamaqua Heritage Festival will hit a milestone Sunday as it returns for its 30th year. The annual celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the downtown district. The Tamaqua Historical Society hosts the event, which will be held rain or shine.
A special attraction at this year’s festival will be the newly renovated East Broad Street Bridge. The structure, which goes over the Little Schuylkill River, opened about a week ago after a major renovation project. The work also included the preservation of the original double stone arch bridge beneath the main bridge.
“The bridge reopening a week before the festival was coincidental. It was, however, slated to be done by November, but the fact that it opened prior to our heritage festival is great for us,” Dale Freudenberger, president of the Tamaqua Historical Society, said.
Freudenberger said the bridge’s reopening also helps traffic for the festival. He said the event draws thousands of people into the borough.
“It provides easier traffic flow through town the day of the festival and it gives outof-town visitors a chance to walk just one block east of the festival to look at the beautiful new bridge, look at the efforts that went into pre- serving and refurbishing the 1890s stone double arch bridge, which has been preserved and incorporated into the new bridge on top of the old bridge,” he said.
At the Tamaqua High Rise, a large stone found in the riverbed during the renovations will be on display on the front lawn. The stone is believed to be an original cornerstone from a wooden covered bridge that spanned the Little Schuylkill River in the 1880s. The date and names of the people who built the covered bridge are hand engraved into the stone.
According to a press release from the Tamaqua Historical Society, the festival celebrates the fall foliage season in the borough, which was the mining, railroad and manufacturing hub of the coal region.
The railroads are a main feature of the Heritage Festival activities.
The 1874 Tamaqua Railroad Station will be open for visitors and historic railroad equipment, including World War II-era cabooses, will be set up around the station. The Tamaqua Anthracite Model Railroad Club will host an open house at its headquarters at West Broad and Nescopeck streets. The display will include an operating HO model train layout.
Freudenberger said the fall foliage train rides will not be held this year. The train rides will take place every year during Tamaqua Summerfest on Father’s Day.
“One of the goals of the historical society organizing the annual festival is to get people to come downtown, spend a fun and leisurely day outdoors and take time to look at the preserved historic architecture of many of our buildings, look at the new bridge, visit some of our historic buildings, such as the 1801 Moser Log Home, the first home in Tamaqua, watch the blacksmith working at the forge inside the 1848 Hegarty Blacksmith Shop, tour the 1874 train station, take time to look at the historic pieces of railroad equipment around it, check out the blue and white historic markers, such as the one for the Little Schuylkill Railroad in the center of town which is the third oldest railroad in America and the first to use steam power to haul coal,” Freudenberger said.
According to Freudenberger, the Moser Log Home will not be open for tours due to renovations. However, visitors will be allowed to walk up to the home and view it from the outside.
About 100 vendors are expected at this year’s festival, selling a variety of crafts from jewelry, holiday decorations and clothing.
Other entertainment scheduled to be at the festival includes Dr. Kelly’s Old Tyme Traveling Medicine Show at West Broad and Nescopeck streets; horsedrawn trolley car rides by Leiby’s famous Belgian draft horses and musical entertainment by Dave Matsinko, 3 AM band, WMGH polka program and DJ Brandon.
Also, the Tamaqua Street Machine Association will hold an antique and classic car show on South Railroad Street. Registration begins at 10 a.m., with awards to be handed out at 3 p.m.
For more information on the festival, call the Tamaqua Historical Society at 570-225-1089.
Lisa Phillip, Pottsville, cooks Caribbean cuisine during last year’s Tamaqua Heritage Festival. The 30th annual event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in downtown Tamaqua.