Herald-Standard: by Frances Borsodi Zajac
The 43rd Annual National Road Festival runs May 20-22 with events across 90 miles of present-day Route 40 in Somerset, Fayette and Washington counties to commemorate America’s first federally built highway.
“It’s local volunteers in communities who do the planning and raise money for these events,’’ said Donna Holdorf, Executive Director for the National Road Heritage Corridor. “It’s really a grassroots festival.’’
The Historic National Road was built in the early 19th century, eventually stretching from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois. The road brought pioneers West and provided a link for the growth of business and industry. The federal government designated it an All-American Road in 2002.
The festival celebrates this heritage with re-enactors, exhibits, art, music and food. Visitors can tour tollhouses and taverns while the visitor’s center at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Wharton Township tells the National Road story.
Pulling this together are two wagon trains: National Pike Wagon Train Association travels west from Grantsville, Maryland on May 19 with an encampment in Addison, continues May 20 with a stop at A.J. McMullen School before an encampment in Farmington; journeys May 21 with lunch in Hopwood before reaching its final destination at Mount St. Macrina just west of Uniontown.
The wagoneers travel east across Washington County, starting May 20 in Claysville with an overnight encampment in Washington Park, continuing May 21 to Scenery Hill for another encampment and then heading May 22 to Walkeski Farm in Richeyville for lunch before finishing at the National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Association in Malden.
The festival schedule includes:
Addison celebrates with historic buildings open May 19-22 and a special stamp cancellation at the post office 8 a.m. to noon May 19-21. On May 21, there is 1860s baseball at 10 a.m. in the ballfield and theater featuring local Civil War stories at the United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. On May 22, there’s community worship at 9 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church with a blessing of the pets, followed by a classic car show until 3 p.m.
Ohiopyle offers a Wine and Arts Festival noon to 7 p.m. May 21 with crafts, vendors, and music.
Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield has costumed guides, crafters, and light refreshments 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 21-22.
Hopwood celebrates May 21 with a carnival and vendors opening at 10 a.m., a parade at 1 p.m. and a Ridge Runner cocktail competition at Dr. McCarthy’s Kitchen from 5 to 7 p.m.
Mount St. Macrina near Uniontown has Chase the Wagon 5k walk/run at 4:30 p.m. May 21. Registration is $25 and starts at 3:15 p.m. The public can visit with the wagon train in the evening. On May 22, interdenominational worship is 8 a.m. and Laurel Highlands High School students will give mansion tours 1 to 3 p.m. with admission $12, adults; $5, children 6 to 12.
Searights Tollhouse in Menallen Township offers guided tours by the Fayette County Historical Society 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 21 and noon to 4 p.m. May 22. Admission $3, adults; $2, students, children under 12, free.
Abel Colley Tavern and Museum in Menallen Township features the Dukes-Nutt scandal with a new exhibit noon to 5 p.m. May 21-22 and a talk by Andrew Porwancher, author of a new book, at 2 p.m. May 22. There’s also Civil War-era re-enactors John and Elizabeth Brasuk of Hopwood, historian Dennis Balas and wood sculptor Peter Pasqua, both of German Township. Admission $3, adults; $2, students, children under 12, free.
Melega Art Museum in the Flatiron Building in Brownsville hosts the National Road Festival Juried Art Exhibition 1 to 5 p.m. May 21-22. Best of Show will be announced May 21 with the artist invited to become the 2017 Artist of the Pike. Patrick Daugherty, director, said, “We have a lot of variety and we’re happy about that because Mr. Melega tried all styles and materials and our juried show reflects him in that way.’’ The show runs through July 17. After the festival, call 724-785-9931 for hours.
Nemacolin Castle in Brownsville offers history tours noon to 5 p.m. May 20 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 21-22 and ghost tours 6 to 10 p.m. May 20-21. Admission is $10, adults; and $4, children 12 and under. There is food, crafts vendors, a Colonial encampment, and music.
Monongahela River, Railroad and Transportation Museum in Brownsville opens noon to 4 p.m. May 20-22 when the Pittsburgh Garden Railway Society will have a train display.
Waleski Horse Farm in Richeyville has a flea market May 20-22, bluegrass music May 21 and welcomes the wagon train May 22.
Scenery Hill offers an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. May 21, community worship at 9:30 a.m. and fireworks at dusk on May 22. There will also be entertainment, crafts, and food.
Washington has activities 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 21-22 with tours of the Bradford House, period demonstrations at Washington Winery, 18th-century artisans at the LeMoyne House and an antique fair at Madeleine’s Garden.
Claysville has live music, horse-drawn wagon rides, arts and crafts, vendors and children’s activities 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 21 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 22.