BY REGINA GARGANO
Summer’s end becomes official this month, and seemingly everyone’s favorite season, fall, begins.
Personally, summer is my favorite season, and I’m loathe to see it pass, but I know I am in the minority and that most folks love fall.
Summer’s long, hot sunny days make me happy, and I enjoy the illusion that I have more time “for things.” Fall, on the other hand, makes me feel like I have less time “for things” in spite of the fact that fall is a busy and bustling time around Schuylkill County.
Saturday is Famous Reading Outdoors’ Coal Pit Crusade for autism and Sunday is Orwigsburg’s Heritage Day. The Coal Pit Crusade is in its second year and features guided tours, kids’ activities, food, raffles, prizes, wheeling and camaraderie for a good cause on more than 100,000 acres.
Orwigsburg’s Heritage Day promises live music by Rhythm & Brews and Tool Shed Jack, combined with activities such as Revolutionary War re-enactors, horse-drawn carriage rides, a bounce house, food trucks, games, crafts, face painting and more. Both days are evidence that there’s plenty to do in Schuylkill County no matter your age or interest.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the world’s first refuge for birds of prey, has a full line-up of events this month including International Vulture Awareness Day on Saturday, Skyline Hike on Sept. 21 and Monarch Day on Sept. 28. Another important annual event at Hawk Mountain is its fall native plant sale on Sept. 14 where you can choose from a variety of fall flowering Pennsylvania native wildflowers including asters, goldenrods, milkweeds, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans and more.
The sale also features a selection of native vines, grasses, ferns, trees and shrubs. You can learn what to do and how to do it from a host of native plant volunteers who are dedicated to helping you find the perfect plants for your yard. They even separate them by habitat, such as sunny/hot or shady/wet to make it as easy as possible for you to buy plants that will thrive in your home landscape and benefit our local environment. What more could you ask for? Please support this organization.
Fall is the perfect time for planting, and it’s also a perfect time for festivals in Schuylkill County. For 11 years now, our friends at Pioneer Evergreen Farms have been doing fall festivals the right way.
Pioneer Evergreen Farms is a family-owned and operated business since 1945 and also is the home of our area’s oldest floral shop, Forget-Me-Not Florist, founded in 1912. Every weekend from Sept. 20 through Oct. 27, these fine folks put together family fun that brings smiles to faces and lasting memories to hearts of all ages.
At Pioneer Evergreen Farms Fall Festival, you will find more than 38 exciting activities including a water balloon launcher, a 60-foot tube slide, a corn crib, a pumpkin patch, a 3-acre tree maze, gypsy gem mining, horse/pony rides, a petting zoo, go-kart racing, train rides, a 200-foot mountain slide and a whole lot more. They are home to the area’s best scenic mountain hayride and some killer homemade apple dumplings, too!
We’ve got a plethora of organizations doing important work every day in our community and many of these organizations are hosting great events this month that deserve your support: Schaeffer’s Harley-Davidson’s Dennis Schaeffer Memorial Ride on Sept. 14; Dancing at Lughnasa at The Majestic Theater on Sept. 27, 28 and 29; Hegins Valley Arts & Crafts Faire on Sept. 21 benefitting Hegins Park; Pottsville on Tap on Sept. 21; “Peter Pan Jr.” at The Tamaqua Community Arts Center on Sept. 20 and 21; Stone Mountain Wine Cellars Fall into Yesteryear on Sept. 22; Schuylkill Haven Borough Days on Sept. 28; Apple Festival at Valley View Park on Sept. 28; Gabriel Chamber Ensemble in concert on Sept. 29 at Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Schuylkill Haven. All of these events support our community while offering wonderful and enjoyable experiences.
Did you know that we have an annual Chainsaw Festival in Schuylkill County? Well, we do. The second annual “Let’s Get Knotty” Chainsaw Festival on Sept. 28 and 29 at Made in PGA on Tulpehocken Street in Pine Grove is home to this new tradition. Chock full of super talented carvers, unique vendors, tasty food and lots more fun; this festival is bound to become a favorite! And admission is free, too!
Closing out September harvest activities, our friends at The Arts Barn are celebrating the season with its annual Fall Festival on Sept. 29. As always, festival admission and parking are free, and there’s a shuttle this year, too. There will be live music, local food vendors, beverages, many Pennsylvania fine arts and crafts vendors, live chainsaw carving, their famous “painting horse,” Foxy Lady, balloon sculptures, face painting, a petting zoo, lots of free kids’ activities and demonstrating artists.
All year long, the Arts Barn Education Center promotes the visual arts in Schuylkill County by featuring art classes, workshops and children’s summer camps in a serene rural setting. Its adjacent gallery space, The Arts Barn Gallery, represents more than 100 Pennsylvania artists and artisans displaying fine arts and crafts. Artwork is uniquely displayed among local antiques available for purchase. The facilities include two full galleries and an education center. It is an awesome organization doing great work in Schuylkill County, and I hope you’ll go to the festival and support them.
One thing that all of these autumn celebrations have in common is celebrating people coming together. In Schuylkill County, we come together in times of duress and in times of joy. I’m proud and blessed to be a part of our community, a community with a rich history of enjoying our heritage and engaging future generations in that process. If your organization enriches the fabric of Schuylkill County (and I’m betting it does!), please consider joining the Visitors Bureau and being part of our 2020 Visitors’ Guide. To find out more about the guide, the benefits of membership or September events, give us a call at 570-622-7700 or go to www.schuylkill.org.
Gargano is executive director of Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau.