Go­ing deep

Pioneer Day to cel­e­brate 25 years of en­ter­tain­ment, ed­u­ca­tion

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - Front Page - BY ERIC PEDDIGREE COPY ED­I­TOR Con­tact the writer: eped­di­gree@ re­pub­li­can­her­ald. com; 570- 628- 6003

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.

DAVID MCK­E­OWN/ STAFF PHOTO

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.

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