Shed­ding light on the past

15th an­nual His­tory Faire set for Satur­day at Fair­lane Vil­lage

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - Front Page - BY DANIEL P. PROSICK COPY ED­I­TOR

For ev­ery gen­er­a­tion there is a gap, and at an up­com­ing gal­le­ria thisweek­end, a chance to bridge it.

His­tor­i­cal so­ci­eties and as­so­ci­a­tions from across the county are com­ing to­gether at the 15th an­nual His­tory Faire from10 a. m. to 4 p. m. Satur­day at Fair­lane Vil­lage mall, Pottsville. The event is free and open to the pub­lic, ac­cord­ing to Tom Dro­galis, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Schuylkill County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, and has much to of­fer for young and old alike.

“I think it’s a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for multi­gen­er­a­tional peo­ple to en­joy. It’s a mar­quee event for the peo­ple who want to get an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of our county’s rich his­tory. Across the county, all the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­eties are rep­re­sented,” Dro­galis said. “It’ll make that con­nec­tion between the var­i­ous gen­er­a­tions: ‘ What was life like formy par­ents andmy grand­par­ents, my great- grand­par­ents?’ That’s what I re­ally en­joyed see­ing in the last fewyears.”

The county so­ci­ety, cel­e­brat­ing its 115th year, is plan­ning to in­form, among many other things, about a sub­ject to which we can re­late, yet not quite imag­ine: in­fluenza. But it’s not just any flu; they’re bring­ing in­for­ma­tion com­mem­o­rat­ing the cen­ten­nial of the Span­ish flu.

“This is the 100th an­niver­sary of the global Span­ish flu pan­demic. And if you think there’s a sever­ity of ill­ness now, it is frankly noth­ing com­pared towhat the world en­dured 100 years ago. So we’re go­ing to do some­thing in­ter­est­ing to com­mem­o­rate that,” Dro­galis said, adding that where as the mod­ern mu­tat­ing mal­adies tend to only kill those most vul­ner­a­ble, this pan­demic hit the en­tire pop­u­la­tion very hard, re­gard­less of age and health­ful­ness.

“This was tak­ing peo­ple in lit­er­ally 24 to 36 hours, peo­ple in the prime of their lives. Boom,” he said. “One in 5 per­sons in theworld was af­fected by this.”

But the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety plans to mar­ket it­self at least as much on its pres­ence in the com­mu­nity as the macabre.

“We’re go­ing to build on the suc­cess of some­thing that hap­pened last year, our Haunted His­tory tours we did in the month of Oc­to­ber. It was a mile- long walk through down­town Pottsville that had var­i­ous stops

that was hosted by one of our board mem­bers, JohnWalsh, a his­tory teacher from North Schuylkill,” Dro­galis said, adding they planned to also build on the suc­cess of another pro­gram that in­volved team­ing up with area ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

“We part­nered with the Schuylkill In­ter­me­di­ate Unit to do af­ter- school pro­grams, and again, one of our board mem­bers, John Walsh, and­my­self host those events. And whatwe do is go out to the school and present a se­ries of pro­grams,” he said. “It’s every­thing from the Pottsville Ma­roons… to a CivilWar as­pect and Schuylkill County’s con­tri­bu­tion to that. There are five or six dif­fer­ent pro­grams they can ask for.”

Aside from pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion, the so­ci­ety plans to have sundry items for sale, in­clud­ing many archival books and even copies of the doc­u­men­tary on the mine fire in Cen­tralia that was re­leased last year.

They even plan to present some items they can’t bring from the his­tor­i­cal build­ing and dis­play it on a big screen.

“These other as­so­ci­a­tions do an out­stand­ing job of bring­ing ar­ti­facts,” Dro­galis said, but some items are just too frag­ile or cum­ber­some to take to a one- day event.

“Whatwe do is bring up a large screen TV that has ama­jor­ity of our very, very ex­ten­sive photo cat­a­log on archives with us. We have that avail­able for view­ing, and it’s nice be­cause it’s or­ga­nized by con­tent in fold­ers,” Dro­galis said.“We just want peo­ple to know we’re here and, come visit us and en­joy it. There’s some­thing for ev­ery­body.”

The his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety will next be host­ing a pro­gram on Feb. 22 at theMa­jes­tic Theater to rec­og­nize for­mer Pottsville Fire Chief Todd March. Do­na­tions arewel­come.

“Todd has done so much and seen so much to serve the city, sowe thought it’d be ap­pro­pri­ate to rec­og­nize him,” Dro­galis said.

For­more in­for­ma­tion, visit the Schuylkill County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’sweb­site atwww. schuylkill­his­tory. org, call them at 570- 6227540, visit them on Face­book or email them at sch. hist@ com­cast. net.

DAVID MCK­E­OWN/ STAFF PHOTO

Mike Turner, Pine Grove, looks through map re­prints of rail­roads and canal sys­tems in east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia dur­ing last year’s His­tory Faire. This year’s event will be held from 10 a. m. to 4 p. m. Satur­day at Fair­lane Vil­lage mall, Pottsville.

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