CENTRAL CITY – The scent of barbecue and kettle corn filled the air Sunday, but Sierra Smay opted for a pony ride in a quiet corner of Central City Recreation Park.
Nearby, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources park naturalist Ron Barlick was sharing stories about some of Pennsylvania’s common critters, and two teams were battling it out under blue skies during an all-day volleyball tournament.
For the past 25 years, the outdoors and its offerings have been part of the draw for the Shade-Central City Heritage Days, and Sunday was no exception.
“We come from an outdoors area with with a lot of sportsmen’s clubs ... where nature and the environment are important. And we try to incorporate that into some of our events every year,” said Jessie Kohan, a Shade-Central City Heritage Days event organizer.
The weekend’s events included miniature train rides around the park and a petting zoo – in addition to festival staples such as food and craft vendors, live music and a car cruise-in.
On Sunday, Fayette County country singer Katelyn Rose was belting out a tune about “Small Town USA.” while festival-goers dined on halupki from Our Lady Queen of Angels Church and Pappy D’s slow-smoked BBQ, other other festival favorites.
This weekend marked the 25th time the festival was held at the Central City park and Kohan said organizers are proud of that fact.
Nearly 200 people work throughout the year – or on festival weekend – to make Heritage Days happen, giving many folks in the community something to look forward to every summer and others another reason to come back home, she said.
Doug Foltz, of Lancaster, credited the local group for keeping the event thriving.
Foltz was in town visiting family over the weekend, and it gave him a chance to grab a plate of Polish food and let his children, Brady and Reagan, explore the festival grounds.
“The organizers do a really nice job with this,” he said.
Sidney Duppstadt, of Cairnbrook, raved about the event’s homemade food. But it was bingo that brought her back Sunday, she said.
“We come every year,” she said, sitting under a pavilion alongside her husband, Elwood. “It’s always so nice to see old friends – to just talk and mingle. And this park is the perfect place for it.”