News Column

Annual Tamaqua Summerfest on Sunday will feature return of train excursions

June 13, 2014

By Eric Peddigree, Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.

June 13--Families will fill Tamaqua's streets Sunday for shopping, food and to learn some history at the 24th Summerfest.

The annual Father's Day event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the downtown district. Dale Freudenberger, president of the Tamaqua Historical Society, which runs Summerfest, said the free event is a day for families to spend time together.

"Summerfest is a great way to kick off the summer season and celebrate Father's Day with dad and the entire family," he said.

The main feature of Summerfest is a large street fair lining West Broad and Nescopeck streets and a section of South Railroad Street. Vendors will offer a variety of goods, including crafts, jewelry and clothing. Local organizations will hold fundraisers and sell food, as well.

Freudenberger estimated about 10,000 people attended the event in the past few years, especially if the weather was nice.

"We have been monitoring the weather very closely. Sunday looks like a perfect day to be outside," he said. "We are usually lucky."

He said many people use Summerfest as a way to return to the area to spend time with family.

"A lot of people plan their Father's Day around it," Freudenberger said. "It's kind of a homecoming to many locals."

A popular attraction for fathers on Sunday will be an antique and classic car showcase by the Tamaqua Street Machine Association. The free show will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on South Railroad Street. The top three vote-getters will receive the People's Choice trophies and a special car will be awarded the Mayor's Choice trophy. Registration for the show is also free.

Freudenberger said train excursions will be offered at this year's Summerfest. According to a press release from the Tamaqua Historical Society, passenger coaches circa 1920s pulled by a diesel locomotive are set to make three trips on Father's Day. The first trip will leave the 1874 Tamaqua Railroad Station, 18 N. Railroad St., at 11 a.m. and head south to New Ringgold and back. Two afternoon trips are scheduled at 1 and 3 p.m. Also departing from the train station, the excursions will head north through the Tamaqua Tunnel to the "famous High Bridge" north of the borough, then return home.

"This will be the first time summer train excursions are being offered in Tamaqua in several years," Freudenberger said. "The trips are sponsored by the Tamaqua Historical Society, in partnership with the Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad and Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway."

Tickets can be bought in advance at the Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce office, 114 W. Broad St. Prices are $12 for adults 13 and older and $9 for children ages 4 to 12. Children under 3 can ride for free with a paying adult. Tickets will be available Sunday on a first-come basis.

Special presentations will be held throughout the day, including blacksmith Don Campbell working at the forge and anvil at the 1848 Hegarty Blacksmith Shop, Hegarty Avenue. The Tamaqua Anthracite Model Railroad Club will host an open house at its model train display in the lower level of the Masonic Building, Nescopeck Street, and the Tamaqua Community Arts Center, 125 Pine St., will also be open.

For those looking to relax and get off their feet, horse-drawn trolley rides will be offered by Leiby's famous Belgian Draft horses.

Entertainment scheduled for Sunday includes Polka Joe Manjack of WLSH radio station from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Tamaqua Historical Society Museum, West Broad Street, followed by DJ Brandon Fritz. 3 AM will perform in front of M&S Hardware, West Broad and Railroad streets, and folk musician Jay Smar will play at Hegarty Blacksmith Shop.

For more information about Summerfest or the train excursions, call 570-225-1089.


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