Labor Day has come and gone, and with it the closing of the pool at Hickory Hollow Campground and many other places. But no need to fret that summer is over yet, at least, because there are still plenty of great activities to take advantage of here in the Laurel Highlands. The weekend after Labor Day in Somerset County is very popular with the locals and tourism crowds. This weekend is filled with some popular festival favorites that take you back in time – start with Mountain Craft Days going back to the 1700s pioneer era, make a stop and learn about the early 1900s farming era at the New Centerville Jubilee, and then top it off with a remembrance of 911 and that world changing event that happened 20 years ago. After the pandemic caused the festivals to go on hiatus for a year, everyone is happy that the traditions will be continuing this summer.
Located just a mile down the road from Hickory Hollow Campground is the ever-popular New Centerville Farmers and Threshermen’s Jubilee celebrating their 69th year on September 8th-12th at the festival crowds. In rural America, the Threshermen were once the main focus around this time of year as the farmers worked tirelessly to bring the harvest in. The labor-intensive work was done using steam power and by hand to fill the barns before winter. These old traditions have been replaced with new modern farm equipment, but the Jubilee celebrates their legacy every year drawing crowds from all over the US. New Centerville is one of just a few festivals in America that shows old-time steam engines, in motion, so if you have never experienced them before, come on out to the festival and see and hear these magnificent machines in action.
People are always looking for something new, but at the Jubilee the focus remains on keeping the traditions that our farming forefathers used authentic year after year. There will be lots of antique equipment demonstrations, along with a quilt show, cement block making demonstrations, garden tractor pulls, horse pulls, truck pulls, photo contest, and a cider mill pressing apples for cider purchase. You will be hungry after all that so venture over to the concession stand for some crowd favorites like delicious apple dumplings, homemade bean soup, barbeque chicken, and ice cream. The Jubilee committee has been working hard to prepare for this weekends events and like they say, “There is nothing like the Jubilee. It is a history lesson, but much more than that – after 69 years, it has become our history.”
Mountain Craft Days located at the Somerset Historical Center is another crowd favorite when it comes to end of summer festivals. Started in 1970, Mountain Craft Days replicates a time dating back to the 1770s when European and American settlers came to the region and enjoyed a much simpler lifestyle. Take a walk back through time this weekend September 10-12 at Mountain Craft Days and learn the ways of the pioneers. Artisans, craftspeople, and interpreters bring the traditional crafts, country food, music and children’s activities to life as you walk through the cool woodland setting. Authentic log cabins are featured along with over 125 craft booths with demonstrators plying their trades using wood, iron, fabric, copper, glass, paper and other materials. Learn the ways of the pioneers as you experience the not so easy tasks the Pioneers had to endure just to have the basics needed for everyday chores. You can experience blacksmiths hammering hot iron, demonstrations of copper, flax spinning, butter churning, gingerbread making and so much more. You will leave with a greater appreciation of the not so necessary items we have access to today, thanks to Amazon Prime. Make a stop at the ham pot pie booth or pick up a few apple dumplings for the road. Corn on the cob will be cooked over an open fire pit, funnel cakes, fried mush, haluski, kielbasa, chicken and waffles and a variety of other delicious Somerset County foods will be available to purchase so you won’t need to worry about getting back to the campground later and cooking.
As the 20th year after 911 is remembered this week, another great spot to visit would be the 911 Memorial located outside of Shanksville, PA on RT 30 South toward Bedford. The official service which will take place on Saturday is by invitation only, however, you can check out the service live on the 911 Memorial Facebook page. If you get a chance to visit the 911 Memorial, stop across the highway and check out the newest exhibit that pays tribute to those who served in the Global War on Terrorism called Patriot Park. Patriot Park is not part of the 911-Memorial but recently opened and includes a Field of Honor containing more than 7,000 American Flags to honor the life of every service member who died in the global war on terrorism.
With everything going on in the world, a heart touching display entitled “Reflections of the Human Spirit; America’s County Responds to the Tragic Events of September 11th” will be on display at Laurel Arts, the local arts center located at 214 Harrison Avenue in Somerset. This exhibit includes photography, art, documentaries, media archives and other artifacts related to the community’s response to September 11. The exhibit is open from 11 am to 6 pm Monday – Thursday and 12 – 4pm on Saturdays now through September 30.
While you are sitting around the campfire this weekend at Hickory Hollow Campground go ahead and reminisce a little about this precious gift we are given called life. Every life has a purpose. Every generation brings something of value to the world. George Orwell was said, “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” Hope you make some historic memories while camping this weekend!