By Alexandra Smith
LIGONIER, Pa.—The Ligonier Chamber of Commerce hosted its 54th annual Fort Ligonier Days festival on Oct. 11-13 in downtown Ligonier.
The festival commemorated the Battle of Fort Ligonier, fought during the French and Indian War in 1758. Fort Ligonier Days featured battle reenactments at Fort Ligonier, food and craft vendors, non-stop free musical entertainment, and a parade on Saturday.
According to Kayla Tamer, executive assistant of the Ligonier Chamber of Commerce, the festival attracted large crowds. “We had a good turnout,” she said. “I’ve heard for Saturday we had maybe 40,000 to 50,000.”
Tamer said she has attended Fort Ligonier Days for as long as she can remember. “Well, I’m 26,” she said. “I was born and raised in Ligonier, so I think I’ve come almost every year since I was little. This is my second year working on staff at Fort Ligonier Days, though.”
Tamer also said she believes the festival gets better every year, and enjoys the community aspect of the event.
“I think that it’s such a high quality event,” Tamer added. “Each year the crafters get better, the food gets better, even the entertainment gets better, and I think we just keep trying to set the bar higher. My favorite thing here is probably working with the committee. Everyone in the community just tries to help each other out.”
Bill Lowry, Ligonier resident and staff member of Fort Ligonier Days, said he has worked at the festival a few times. “I helped with the parade a few years ago when we had the Clydesdales here,” he said. “One of my neighbors is one of the directors, and asked my wife and I to help out.”
Lowry said his favorite part of the festival is the parade. “It’s just an atmosphere with a lot of good bands and the parade seems to get better every year,” Lowry added. “It evolved from when I was a kid. It seemed like it was 90 percent fire trucks and a few bands, and now it has become a lot more diversified.”
Though many people attend Fort Ligonier Days year after year, the festival also attracts people who have never attended the event before.
Mindy Moran, a Pittsburgh-based wood worker and Fort Ligonier Days craft vendor, said this year was her first year attending the event.
“It has been great from the beginning,” Moran said. “The chamber of commerce has been very nice to work with and the process has run very smoothly and it’s been very well organized. Everyone has been very accommodating and very nice.”
Moran said she heard the festival would be a great opportunity to sell her handmade wood items. “My husband and I don’t do many shows, but we were told we should do this, that it would be great, and it’s been a success so far,” Moran added. “We’re selling cheese trays, serving trays, wooden spoons, and unique items for your home.”
Jon Fechter, Fort Ligonier Days festival attendee, said he’s visited the Ligonier area for a long time. “I’m from Columbus, Ohio, and I’ve been coming here since I was 10, and I’m about to be 53,” he said. “We’ve been coming up to see the fort for about 40 years, and when this started, it wasn’t big like this. It was more about the French and Indian War and they had some crafts. Now, the parade is two hours long. It was a big parade.”
Fechter said he enjoys all aspects of Fort Ligonier Days, especially visiting Fort Ligonier. “I like to watch all the people, and I like to see all the things for sale, and I like the parade,” he said.
“I like to go to the fort because it’s pretty accurate for what it was and it’s very well preserved,” Fechter added. “They’ve got a very good movie explaining the history of the French and Indian War and why the fort was here and it’s really good.”
The 55th annual Fort Ligonier Days will be held on Oct. 10-12, 2014. For more information, readers should call the Ligonier Chamber of Commerce at 724-238-4200.