Pa. festival pays tribute to pioneers

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HARMONY, Pa. – A young George Washington, guide Christopher Gist and several Indians will recreate a visit Aug. 23 to western Pennsylvania some 200 years ago, part of the 33rd annual Harmony Museum pioneer Dankfest weekend.

Harmony was founded on the Connoquenessing Creek in 1804 by German Separatists who organized as the communal Harmony Society. Mennonites led resettlement of the area in 1815, after the Harmonists moved away.

But 250 years ago this year, Washington visited a Delaware Indian village here while on the military mission that sparked the first truly global war.

Washington connection. An exhibit at the Harmony Museum explains Washington’s 1753 mission.

Between noon and 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 23, reenactors representing Washington, Gist and Indians at a French & Indian War encampment at Slippery Rock University’s Old Stone House in Brady Township will visit Harmony.

They will participate with officials in a ceremony formally unveiling road markers being installed by Butler County to guide tourists along the approximate course of paths followed by Washington 250 years ago.

Craft artisans. The heart of Dankfest is pioneer crafts, historical exhibits and tours.

Most artisans will work on the grounds of log houses on Mercer Street owned by the museum and the Franz family, although quilters and some others will be found in the museum’s Stewart Hall.

A display of quilts made or collected by area residents is new this year, and antiques and collectibles will be sold at the museum’s 1805 barn, western Pennsylvania’s oldest.

There’s also food with a German touch at Dankfest, as well as complete dinners available in Stewart Hall.

Historic tours. Museum and national historic landmark district tours are offered, and visitors enjoy browsing Dankfest’s farmers market and Harmony’s antiques, art and craft shops.

A quilt made by museum volunteers and a replica Harmony Society bucket bench made by a museum artisan will be given away in Sunday afternoon drawings.

Children can once again help prepare a rail from the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler & New Castle Railway destined for museum display. The interurban ran during the first third of the 20th century.

Details. Dankfest parking and admission is free, with fees for tours and the quilt show.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 23, and noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 24. Harmony is at Interstate 79 exits 87-88, about 30 miles north of downtown Pittsburgh.

Contact the Harmony Museum for more information at 724-452-7341, toll-free 888-821-4822, or at www.harmonymuseum.org.

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