Whether it is a festival or a fair, the Labor Day weekend offers plenty to see and do in the area.
The Cambria City Ethnic Festival kicks off Friday and continues through Sept. 1, featuring homemade ethnic foods, craft vendors and free performances by a variety of artists and genres.
At St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church, volunteers have made about 43,000 pierogi, 9,000 stuffed cabbages and more than a ton of haluski.
There will also be baked goods, hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh-cut fries, hot sausage sandwiches, kielbasa, homemade sauerkraut and Hungarian goulash.
St. Mary’s pavilion, located at 411 Power St., is the center of many activities, including musical entertainment and traditional Slavjane dancers.
“This is a Johnstown celebration, and it’s a sentimental weekend for so many Johnstowners and former Johnstowners,” said Monsignor Raymond Balta, a festival organizer.
“It has become a reunion with a lot of people coming home over Labor Day weekend. People come down to Cambria City and reminisce about growing up here.”
Holy Cross Lutheran Church will host an event in the 700 block of Chestnut Street featuring traditional Slovakian foods and musical entertainment.
The menu will feature haluski, halupki, pierogi, kielbasa, sausage deluxe sandwiches, steak burgers, hot dogs, fries, apple dumplings and palacinki, a homemade sweet Slovak crepe.
The featured beer will be Iron City.
Smoked brisket sandwiches will be available at noon Saturday.
On Sept. 1, lamb sandwiches will be available beginning at noon.
“The festival is a great way to have fun, fellowship and good food,” said Paul Kushner, festival committee co-chairman.
“A lot of the food we serve is ethnic that’s not available to the general public throughout the year, so this may be their only shot to get some authentic haluski going back to Grandma or Great-Grandma’s recipe.”
A veterans’ recognition ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 1.
The guest speaker will be Cambria County senior Judge Timothy Creany.
This year, the church has partnered with Martha & Mary House and will collect donations throughout the weekend for the facility, which is operated by Catholic Charities of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, and is the only licensed homeless shelter in the region.
A portion of net festival sales will also be given to Martha & Mary House.
“This festival is a reunion for people, and it’s geared around a sense of neighbors, community and goodwill,” Kushner said.
“You get to see people who you don’t see any other time of the year.”
Ace’s, on Chestnut Street, will have different options throughout the weekend.
The menu will feature lamb sandwiches, halupki, haluski, pierogi, panko-breaded chicken tenders, fresh-cut fries and gobs.
“We’re opening our tent at noon Friday,” said Dustin Greene, part-owner of Ace’s.
“We see a spike at lunchtime from the people who live and work in Cambria City, and we want to accommodate them.”
Ace’s will offer alcoholic and non-alcoholic frozen drinks.
There also will be six draft beers, 12 varieties of bottled beers and wine coolers.
A returning festival favorite will be frozen cheesecake on a stick that is hand-dipped to create a shell of chocolate, cherry or turtle.
Musical entertainment will be offered throughout the weekend.
“The festival is a chance for people to come back and enjoy their ethnic heritage, and even generations who are younger appreciate this festival,” Greene said. “We see an eclectic group of people attend the festival.”
ACRP’s Irish Corner
Alternative Community Resource Program will host an Irish Corner at Chestnut Street and 10th Avenue, near the former St. Columba Church.
Since 2013, ACRP has partnered with the Ancient Order of Hibernians to celebrate the Irish culture.
“We’re seeing more and more people every year, and people know that one section of the festival will be dedicated to the Irish culture, music and entertainment,” said John Skelley, president of the local division of AOH.
“We have enough of a draw that, even if someone isn’t Irish, we have enough to keep them entertained.”
The Irish-themed menu will feature Irish stew, Shepherd’s pie, corned beef and Reuben sandwiches, potato soup, Irish macaroni and cheese, soda bread and scones.
Partnering vendors are Pappy’s Family Pub, Feight Family Concessions, Fudge & Such, Nebula Formations by Jen and LuLaRoe Kali Ankney.
Music will feature Irish bands, including Dead Irish Blues and the Jaffa Highlanders Pipes & Drums.
“We try to engage all of the Irish bands in the area, and then we’ll bring in a bigger name from Pittsburgh and that’s the Bastard Bearded Irishmen,” Skelley said.
“We’ve had them here before, and we welcome them because we have a great time.”
Proceeds will benefit ACRP’s children and family services and AOH’s mission to advance the Irish culture in arts, dance, music and sports.
“The festival is such an outstanding opportunity for the people in the area to enjoy their past, whatever their heritage is,” Skelley said.
Bottle Works, VOMA
Bottle Works and Venue of Merging Arts are partnering to offer music at the Third Avenue Arts Stage.
“This year’s lineup offers music that appeals to everyone,” said Melody Tisinger, Bottle Works’ interim executive director.
“We want to offer people new experiences, so this year, we have our first hip-hop artist. We’re really excited to be an advocate for local talent.”
There will be an outdoor stage on Third Avenue and an indoor stage in the Arts Works building where people will be able to listen to bluegrass, rock, funk, folk, soul and oldies.
“We’ve been a partner with VOMA for years, producing the block-party portion of the Cambria City Ethnic Festival, and it continues to build that sense of community and place,” Tisinger said.
Vendors will be indoors in Bottle Works and along Third Avenue.
Performing Friday will be the Jimmy Adler Blues Band, playing original blues music at 8 p.m.
Rap artist Billy Pilgrim will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday, and at noon Sept. 1. Denise Baldwin’s Artist Showcase will feature the talents of her students.
Also slated to perform will be Kulani West African Dance and Drummers and Adrianna’s Arabian Jewels.
A Kids’ Zone will be offered at noon Saturday and Sept. 1.
In Bottle Works, “Inspired Craft,” featuring the calligraphy work of Renee Ahlstrom and the oil paintings of Jaime Helbig, will be on display, along with the Class Works Exhibition and “Painting With Light,” a photography showcase by Matthew Stich.
Food vendors will be on Third Avenue, including Speals on Wheels with specialty wraps and paninis and Pappy D’s with barbecue.
“The festival has become Johns-town’s family reunion, and you get to meet up with family and friends,” Tisinger said.
“It also gives people the chance to come into the Bottle Works and discover what’s here.”
Log House Arts Festival
When visitors attend the Community Arts Center of Cambria County’s 49th annual festival, they will be treated to crafts, food, entertainment and children’s activities.
The juried festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sept. 1 on the arts center grounds, 1217 Menoher Blvd., Westmont.
Craftspeople from Bedford, Cambria, Somerset and Westmoreland counties and from seven other states will display their wares.
“This year is going to be spectacular,” said Angela R. Godin, executive director of the arts center. “We have 25 new vendors, including demonstrations by a chainsaw carver and other makers.”
The festival will feature jewelry, pottery, florals, rugs, crafted wood and decor, tole, plants, fabric handbags, sweatshirts, Pittsburgh Steelers gear, metal artwork, slate artwork, fudge, wine and a distillery.
Kids’ Kingdom will have a full slate of children’s activities on the second floor of the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center.
The Sharptones will open the festival with doo-wop, oldies and classic rock music at 10 a.m. Saturday. The group will perform throughout the day.
Kenny Fetterman will perform folk, rock and classic country at 10 a.m. Sept. 1, followed by polka music from Rosie & the Jammers at 2 p.m.
Other entertainment will be Razzle & Dazzle, the face painting and balloon twisting clowns; belly dancing with Adriann White; magic shows; storytelling; and visits from Spiderman, Green Power Ranger, a Minion, Minnie Mouse and Wonder Woman.
The food menu will feature items from Clark’s Corner Store, Papa John’s Pizza, Taco Inc., Poppy’s Kettle Korn, Rainbow Food Service and Kona Ice, along with apple dumplings.
“The dynamic participation of local performance artists, amazing musical entertainment, new food vendors and menus will really add to some of the highlights,” Godin said. “It is a true blending of artists, crafters, makers and fine artists, not to mention the fantastic activities in Kids’ Kingdom. I can’t wait for the community to enjoy this year’s festival.”
Forest Hills Festival
Family and community will be on tap at the 31st annual festival.
The three-day event will be held Saturday and Sept. 1 and 2 at Berwind Wayside Festival Park, Route 869, St. Michael.
Festival hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sept. 1 and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 2.
Adams Township Volunteer Fire Company No. 2 is in charge of the festival.
Paul Kundrod, chief of Adams Township Volunteer Fire Company No. 2, said the response to the festival from the community and food and craft vendors has been great.
“Everyone looks forward to Labor Day weekend, and the festival is truly a good homecoming,” he said. “People bring their whole family to the festival grounds as part of their reunions. It’s a great venue for everybody.”
The arts and crafts show will feature vendors selling candles, yard signs, jewelry, clothing and seasonal outdoor displays.
Each day, a breakfast will be served from 7 to 11 at the fire station, across the street from the festival grounds.
An all-you-can-eat menu of pancakes, bacon, sausage and other breakfast favorites will be available for $8.
About 40 food vendors of local churches and civic groups will serve pulled pork, roasted meats, hamburgers, hot dogs, hot sausage, ham potpie, ethnic food, spiral fries, funnel cakes, apple dumplings and gobs.
“It’s a wide variety of food this year,” Kundrod said. “There’s something there for everyone’s tastes.”
Musical entertainment for Saturday will feature 53 South at 11 a.m., Russell Wilburn at 3 p.m. and Tombstone at 7 p.m.
On Sept. 1, Hard Rock, Koko and Joe will entertain at 11 a.m., KB & The Crew at 2:30 p.m. and Three of Hearts at 6 p.m.
A fireworks display will light up the sky at 9 p.m.
“It’s a fantastic show. People start piling into town at 5 p.m. to get a good spot,” Kundrod said.
“Our grounds are packed shoulder to shoulder, so it’s a great highlight to the whole weekend.”
Forest Hills Community Band will perform at 11 a.m. Sept. 2, followed by Button Box at 12:30 p.m. and Rosie & the Jammers at 3 p.m.
There will be children’s activities.
Free parking will be available along Locust Street and throughout St. Michael.
American Legion County Fair
The 128th annual fair, formerly the Cambria County Fair, will be held Sept. 1 through 7 at the fairgrounds, 833 N. Julian St., along old U.S. Route 219, one mile north of Ebensburg.
Fairgoers will see farm equipment, animal displays, musical entertainment, rides, food vendors and demolition derbies.
Dave Martin’s Bullride Mania is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 1.
“They have folks who are on the circuit, and this is one of their competitions,” said Philip Rice, fair president.
Grammy-nominated country act Dailey & Vincent will perform at 7 p.m. Sept. 2 at the grandstand.
“They have the best bluegrass bands in the land backing them up, and they are a fantastic act,” Rice said. “They are a high-quality act.”
Grandstand shows will include a draft horse pull at 3 p.m. Sept. 1; a street stock and super semi truck pull at 7 p.m. Sept. 3; a pickup truck pull at 7 p.m. Sept. 4; a small car demo derby at 7 p.m. Sept. 5; a large car demo derby at 7 p.m. Sept. 6; and a Night of Fire & Destruction Monster Truck Show at 8 p.m. Sept. 7.
For children ages 3 to 8, the Power Wheels demo derby will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 6. There is a $3 entry fee.
Rides will open at noon Sept. 1, 2 and 7 and at 4 p.m. Sept. 3 through 6.
The $8 one-price tickets include parking, rides and grandstand shows.
“We continue to get a lot of support and participation from the community, and attendance has shown an uptick,” Rice said.