Shedding light on the past
15th annual History Faire set for Saturday at Fairlane Village
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.
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.