Pioneer Day to celebrate 25 years of entertainment, education
For a quarter century, people have been attending Pioneer Day to celebrate the region’s coal history.
And it continues to grow, according to a long- time employee at the Pioneer Tunnel Coal-Mine & Steam Train.
The 25th annual Pioneer Day will be held from10 a. m. to 5 p. m. Saturday at the attraction at 19th and Oak streets, Ashland. The event includes coal mine tours and steam train rides, and various activities in nearby Higher- Ups Park. Free parking and shuttle service will be available fromthe Gitman Brothers parking lot at 23rd and Center streets. It also coincides with the 55th anniversary of the tunnel as a tourist attraction.
“It’s a great thing for the community. They look forward to it every year andwe get a great turnout,” Kathy Lattis, assistant business manager, said.
Along with the coal mine tours and steam train rides, for which there will be a charge, Pioneer Day features free music and entertainment. Tommy Symons, one of the Breaker Boys, will perform-coal-mining songs and tell stories. MAK will perform from noon to 3 p. m. on the bandstand.
Acraft fair will be held in the park, with several organizations planning to have stands for fundraising items, pictorial displays and information about their groups. Raffle tickets will be sold on theme baskets, aswell.
One of the organizations scheduled for the event is the Ashland Area Public Library. It plans to sell used books and Boscov’s Friends Helping Friends passes, and take reservations for a bus trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show-slated for March 2018. People are invited to stop at the library table or call 570- 590- 1997 formore information.
Lattis said during her first Pioneer Day more than 20 years ago, therewas about five crafters. Now, there are many.
“It grows every year,” Lattis said.
A popular feature of Pioneer Day is the food. Itwill be provided by local churches, organizations and vendors. Items will include chicken barbecue dinners, bleenies, haluski, halupki, apple dumplings, kielbasa, traveling tacos and regular picnic fare such as hamburgers and hot dogs.
There will also be soups cooked in old- fashioned black kettles on the park grounds. Varieties will be Coal Miners’ ham- and- bean soup, Pennsylvania Dutch chicken corn soup, chicken noodle and oxtail soup. Go- to containers will be available.
A new addition to Pioneer Tunnel, which is rated among the state’s top- 10 tourist attractions, may draw more people to this year’s Pioneer Day, Lattis said.
A35- foot headframe that once stood at Bowman’s shaft at the nearby North Mahanoy Colliery was dedicated Monday.
“We are hoping that will spark interest in a lot of people to come and see it,” Lattis said.
Nowin its 25th year, Lattis said one thing that has never occurred on Pioneer Day is rain. If a stormwere to roll through Saturday, the event will go on, she said. According to the National Weather Service, sunny skies are predicted for Saturday in Ashland. It will be warmer with temperatures climbing into the lowtomid-80s.
Formore information, call 570- 875- 3850 or go online to www.pioneertunnel.com.
Zach Neidig, mine guide at the Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train, Ashland, gives a tour of the mine during last year’s Pioneer Day. This year’s event will be held from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. Saturday.