So many people jammed Ebensburg’s streets Saturday for the 26th annual PotatoFest that foot traffic often came to a standstill while people jockeyed for position in front of booths from which area vendors hawked artwork, crafts, food, drinks, T-shirts and Big Al’s Homemade Mustards.
“They should have it for two days next year!” Joe Carpenter said. Carpenter, a Johnstown resident, and his family spent Saturday afternoon eating their ways up and down High Street, sampling sweet potato-flavored ice cream, kettle corn and other traditional PotatoFest treats.
Danea Koss, Ebensburg community development director, described both the turnout and the weather as “amazing.”
“We have a great crowd,” she said.
“We couldn’t be happier with the turnout. It seems like every year someone says ‘This is our biggest year ever!’ and I’ve heard that several times today. ... We couldn’t do it without the support of our community – our volunteers, our sponsors, our local businesses that helped us out.”
In conjunction with the festival, Dauntless Fire Company held its 10th annual Wine Extravanganza at its station on Sample Street. Eight wineries from across Pennsylvania participated; proceeds garnered from ticket sales went to benefit the fire company.
John Hawksworth, Wine Extravaganza chairman, said this year’s event broke all the fire company’s sales records.
“They’re loving it,” he said. “It’s been a great day for PotatoFest.”
Near the corner of Center and Lloyd streets, representatives of KIIDS
– “Keeping Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities Safe,” a Mansfield-based group of advocates for the disabled
– solicited signatures for a petition calling on state officials to reject House Bill 1650, a piece of proposed legislation that would shut down Pennsylvania’s five remaining intermediate care facilities for disabled people, including the Ebensburg Center.
Mary Wills said that, if her group’s petition garners 10,000 signatures, they’ll try to present it to Gov. Tom Wolf. They collected around 500 signatures on Saturday, Wills added.
Local legislators who oppose the bill say the closure of the Ebensburg Center would leave more than
200 mentally and physically disabled residents without care and more than 700 employees without jobs.
Among the musical acts who played on PotatoFest’s stages were Jill & Leah Gontkovic, Jim Donovan & The Sun King Warriors, Flood City Brass, Tree, Rick Cosgrove, The Crew of the Half Moon, Hornitude, Matt Wagner Duo, Horseshoe Cloggers, Sam & Joe, Right Turn Clyde and Bruce Shettig.
“People are really liking the music, it sounds like,” Koss said.
“I know every band I’ve seen has had a big crowd and sounded really great.”