Portage Summerfest

Members of the Keystone Regiment Senior Drum and Bugle Corps, of Altoona, march down Johnson Avenue in Portage in the afternoon of Aug. 10, 2019, during a parade that was held as part of the 29th annual Portage Area Summerfest.

Hundreds of residents of Portage and the surrounding communities turned out on a hot, sunny Saturday afternoon to attend the second day of the 29th annual Portage Area Summerfest.

Jean Kinley, co-chair of the festival’s organizing committee, said that the pleasant weather helped boost attendance: “I think the turnout has been great. The weather has just been phenomenal. This is kind of what we like – no humidity, nice sunshine and a nice breeze. I think we’re doing well.”

Most of Saturday’s events were held at Crichton McCormick Park, a tree-lined 65-acre expanse in the southwest corner of the borough. Kinley said the proceeds of the family-friendly three-day festival will be used to keep the park in good shape.

“Our goal is to help maintain the park,” she said. “We have a beautiful swimming pool, and we have the Little League fields. 

We’re a community park, and this is a community event to support that park.”

One of the highlights of the day, the annual Summerfest parade, drew crowds that lined both sides of the parade route. 

Beginning at 2 p.m., parade participants proceeded down Main Street, turned right and marched the length of Johnson Avenue before breaking up at the entrance to Crichton McCormick Park. The parade was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Portage.

Floats included fire trucks from Portage, Lilly, Summerhill and Blue Knob, a Portage ambulance and a Portage police cruiser, among many others. The Portage Area High School marching band and the Altoona-based Keystone Regiment Senior Drum and Bugle Corps also marched in the parade.

“Bands always make the parade,” Kinley said.

Also participating were several groups of men from the Jaffa Shrine in Altoona.

“They make the parade,” Kinley said of the Shriners. “They really do. They’re just a great group of guys, and they always help out in making the event.”

Dozens of food vendors set up tents, booths or trailers throughout the park, offering soft-shell crabs, bacon-wrapped shrimp, barbecue, crepes, soft pretzels, hot apple dumplings, pizza and hot sausage sandwiches, among many other options.

“The food vendors – we have lots of different ones this year, and lots of craft vendors,” Kinley said. “It’s just a nice get-together, you know? People plan their reunions around it. It’s just a nice community affair.”

On Sunday, the third and final day of the festival, there will again be food vendors, craft booths and children’s games set up around Crichton McCormick Park.

Two church services are scheduled to be held at the park’s gazebo, a Polish National Catholic Church Mass at 7:30 a.m. and a Protestant service at 8:30 a.m. A Rotary Club pancake breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. at the park’s Summerfest pavilion. The 22nd annual festival golf tournament will tee off at 8 a.m. at Maple Crest Golf Course, 350 Golf Course Road, Portage.

An antique and classic car cruise will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the park. There is a $5 registration fee, which will benefit East Hills Kiwanis, the coordinators of the car cruise. A duck race will be held in Trout Run, which runs through the center of Portage, beginning at noon. A $10,000 drawing will be conducted in the afternoon.

Scheduled to perform throughout the day at the park are polka musician Jerry Intihar from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the upper court, Elvis Presley impersonator Kelly Hylton from noon to 2 p.m. at the gazebo, magician Rich Mangiacarne from 2 to 3 p.m. at the lower court and country band Chris Woodward & Shindiggn’ from 3 to 5 p.m. at the upper court. Lights Out, a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute band, will play from 6 to 8 p.m. at the upper court.

More information, including a complete schedule of events, can be found online at www.portageareasummerfest.com.

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.