Inaugural Lackawanna County Heritage Fair Kicks Off Later This Month

heritage fairThe inaugural Lackawanna County Heritage Fair is quickly approaching, with organizers working hard to lay the foundation for what is intended to become a proud annual tradition.

The fair will take place May 29-June 2 at Montage Mountain Resorts, and will feature a sprawling midway packed with rides, live entertainment, crafters, exhibitors, heritage and civic organizations, and local churches serving up classic Northeast Pennsylvania ethnic foods.

Admission to the fair is $10. For advance tickets or more information, visit lackawannacountyheritagefairs.com.

Agritourism has become big business in recent years, and fair organizers are optimistic the fair will eventually become a self-sustaining economic powerhouse for Lackawanna County.

“Local food, local crafts, local heritage — we’re trying to put the emphasis on that. It’s not the typical county fair,” said local attorney Armand Olivetti, chairman of the fair’s board and the Lackawanna County Fair and Recreation Authority.

Of course, many steps were needed to get the fair concept up and running.

From the beginning, fair organizers have been working closely with representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s PA Fair Fund to comply with the strict regulations that come with trying to achieve probationary status. Ultimately, Olivetti said, the goal is for the fair to be completely self-sustaining operation that requires no county funding.

With a big learning curve in front of them, Olivetti and the other fair board members spent last summer touring a number of fairs both regionally and throughout the state.

“Everyone we talked to was helpful. And they fed us,” Olivetti said with a laugh. “Pretty much everyone told us, ‘Slow down. Learn before you do it big.’ You don’t realize how many details go into it. But everyone has the same idea, which is, ‘How do you put on a good fair that people will enjoy?’ After all, we want to make this a people’s fair.”

The PA Fair Fund’s business model includes the category of “heritage,” which made sense from the board’s standpoint considering the county’s rich ethnic traditions stemming back to the heyday of anthracite coal mining. Plus, Olivetti noted, it wouldn’t have made much sense to try to compete with the more rural-minded focus of popular local fairs like Harford and Wayne County.  

Toni Graytock, a veteran of both of those fairs, was tapped by the board to serve as the Heritage Fair’s operations manager. Her presence makes a huge difference, considering the logistics involved in the planning, from determining the number of portable restrooms and Dumpsters needed, to separating all the recycling, to making sure everything is ADA-compliant.

“It’s been a challenge, but it’s been very successful so far. It’s really coming along great,” said Graytock, noting fair vendors and volunteers are still being sought. “You know what makes it easy – the people involved. They don’t argue or fight; they work well with you. That’s what makes it a fair – everyone working together for the same goal. That way, you’ll have a successful event.”

Because the county doesn’t have a dedicated fairgrounds, the board needed a location with the right infrastructure to support the fair. Montage proved to be the perfect choice, given its ample space, plentiful parking and waterpark, which fairgoers will have access to with the purchase of their ticket.

For the fair’s dates, the board decided on the weekend after Memorial Day so it wouldn’t conflict with popular events like Jessup’s St. Ubaldo Day. Also, it ensures that it’s not in competition with Harford, Wayne County and other late-summer fairs. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are in town that weekend, and the fair is partnering with them that Sunday for a Family Day joint ticket.

As far as attractions go, Scott Twp.-based business SwikaS Amusements will provide the rides, and there will be other fair staples such as a 4-H booth, a women’s lumberjack sports group, and a limited livestock component.

Currently, the fair has about 60 committed vendors, Graytock said. The list includes various crafters and artisans — glass blowers, wood carvers, pottery makers, etc. – as well as wineries and craft brewers, and local churches and organizations specializing in ethnic food, from Italian to Eastern European to Lebanese.

In addition, the fair will feature: informational booths manned by representatives of local colleges and nonprofits; live readings and children’s activities courtesy of the staff of the Lackawanna County Library System; children’s theater performances by CaPAA; magic by Damian the Magician; puppet shows; pet adoptions by Griffin Pond Animal Shelter; dancers from Civic Ballet; and live music by local church choirs, numerous local bands and even an opera singer. The festivities on Saturday, June 1, will include a fireworks extravaganza that evening.

If all goes to plan, organizers expect about 30,000 to 40,000 people to visit the fair over its five days.

The build-up is stressful, yet exciting, Olivetti said.

“Right now, everyone is anxious to make this thing work,” he said. “We just hope people will come out and support the fair in its inaugural year.”

“The people of Lackawanna County should be very happy with this fair,” Graytock added. “I think they’re going to be amazed.”

Spirit of Hope Celebration Benefits Cancer Institute

spirit-of-hope-check-presentation

The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute board of ambassadors and associate board of ambassadors met recently at Montage Mountain for a wrap-up meeting of the 2016 Spirit of Hope Celebration. The Ambassadors presented the Cancer Institute with a $67,205 check.

Pictured, from left: Tom Blaskewicz, Traci Fosnot, event chair, Richard Conaboy, Thomas Cummings Jr., Charles C. Jefferson, Robin Long, William Rinaldi, Pat Sicilio, Leo Vergnetti, Spirit of Hope Celebration board chair, Jessica Kalinoski, Amanda E. Marchegiani, community relations coordinator, Northeast Regional Cancer Institute (holding one end of the check), Chuck Morgan, Angela Rempe Jones and Andrew Wallace. Absent from the photo: Philip Medico, David Nape, Vince Scarpetta, Atty. Gene Sperazza, Kristie Hynoski, Paul McGloin, James Gorman, Joe Ferguson, Greg Gagorik, John P. Rodgers, P. Richard Scheller, Brian McQuestion, John and Jennifer Heil, Dr. Steven J. Szydlowski, Sharon Lynett, Jennifer Lynett, John Moran, Dan Meuser, Scott E. Henry, Atty.y Mark J. Conway, Jim Brady, Susan Brady,  Clifford and Marsha Fay, Roxanne Schulman, Scott Henry, Christopher Peters, M.D.,  Nicholas F. Colangelo, Evie Rafalko McNulty, Karen M. Saunders and Joe Van Wie.

 

New Miss Buck Looks to be Strong Role Model

By Steve Svetovich

She is humble, kind, wholesome, sweet and caring. She is Dunmore High School senior Angelica Plappert—Dunmore High School’s new Miss Buck for the  2015-2016 school year.

Daughter of Robert and Victoria Plappert, Dunmore, Angelica said she felt “relieved, happy and excited” when learning she was chosen to be Miss Buck on April 2, 2015 and said that she will do her very best to represent Dunmore High School.

“This is very rewarding,” Angelica said. “As Miss Buck, I want to represent Dunmore High School very well and hopefully have the younger students look up to me as a role model. I hope we have a great year with all sports, cheerleading, academics and everything else.”

Soft spoken and polite, Angelica will be in her fourth year as a basketball cheerleader. She also plays varsity soccer and is a member of SADD and TACT clubs. Her best academic subject is English.

The DHS basketball cheerleading coach is Maura Dempsey. “She always tells us to do our best and try to give a good performance.”

Angelica said her parents taught her a lot over the years. “They teach me to never give up. They tell me to keep pushing and do my best,” she said. “My parents were very happy for me and proud when they found out I was Miss Buck. They felt I did my best and it worked out for me.”

Angelica’s dad is president of the Dunmore Sherwood Park Youth Association. He was recently a chairperson for the third annual Dunmore Summer Festival at Sherwood Park. And no doubt, Angelica’s parents are very proud of her accomplishments.

Energetic and positive, Angelica set a goal to become Miss Buck and did it.

She talked about her future goals beyond high school. “I want to go to college in the medical field. I am not sure where I will go yet, but I want to help sick people. It would be a good feeling helping them to get better.”

Angelica has a strong work ethic and does volunteer work in her spare time..The Dunmore senior worked this past summer as a lifeguard at Montage Mountain. Angelica also volunteers at the Saint Joseph’s Day Care Center in Dunmore.

The new Miss Buck said she loves country music and would like to see Luke Bryan in concert. Her hobbies include playing sports, cheerleading, working and friends. Angelica is really looking forward to her senior year at Dunmore.

“Dunmore has been a great experience for me. I want to make the most of every single moment and have a lot of fun in my senior year,” said Angelica. “I really look forward to representing Dunmore as Miss Buck. It’s going to be a great year at Dunmore High School.”