BY TOM LAVIS
As many as 100,000 people are expected to travel to Westmoreland County to see history re-enacted during Fort Ligonier Days.
The festivities begin today and continue through Sunday in Ligonier Borough, and feature re-enactments to commemorate the Battle of Fort Ligonier, a key engagement of the French and Indian War.
Other highlights are a parade, musical entertainment, crafts and food booths.
Holly Mowrey, executive director of the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the most anticipated attraction is the parade.
“It’s a nearly two-hour parade, which steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday, and draws thousands of spectators,” Mowrey said.
“But the artillery demonstrations and battle re-enactments at Fort Ligonier run a close second.”
Artillery is fired at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, followed by re-enactments at 2 and 4 each day.
Fort Ligonier Days commemorates the Battle of Fort Ligonier, fought on Oct. 12, 1758.
On the grounds of the fort, visitors will find a living history encampment, showing frontier life, military tactics, drills, cannon firing, ceremonies, Highlanders, redcoats, French troops, frontier men and women, Indians and music from the 1770s.
Today, George Washington, portrayed by Dean Malissa of Mount Vernon, Va., will be in the fort’s museum from noon to 4 p.m. to greet visitors and tell about Washington’s time at Fort Ligonier in 1758.
“He will be part of the opening ceremony at noon today and take part in the parade,” Mowrey said.
Admission to the fort is $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 14 and children younger than 5 will be admitted free.
Mowrey said several highlights of the parade will feature appearances by the Penn State Blue Band and the Marine Corps Band of Quantico, Va.
“Getting these bands to come to Ligonier is a matter of their availability,” she said.
“The Marine Corps Band also will perform at 7 tonight at Ligonier Valley High School auditorium.”
The parade also will feature high school bands, marching units, Shriners’ units, floats, community groups and antique cars and farm equipment.
For safety reasons, no chairs will be permitted to be placed along the parade route before 6 tonight.
“We also have a variety of musical entertainment throughout the festival, including Civil War, big band, folk, bagpipes and drums, bluegrass, gospel and country music,” Mowrey said.
All the music is on the bandstand except for tonight’s street dance at 6:30, featuring Jimmy Ross and The Jaggerz on the East Main Street stage, adjacent to the Diamond.
The borough will become a magnet for bargain hunters as they browse among the festival’s more than 170 craft booths located at four sites around Ligonier.
“Crafters at the official sites have been juried to ensure quality and diversity,” Mowrey said.
The food booths, sponsored by nonprofit community groups, will offer a variety of sandwiches, beverages and sweets.
Free shuttle bus service will be available.
The festivities begin at 9 a.m. today when the food booths and craftsmen’s fair open.
On Saturday, the food and craft booths again open at 9 a.m.
On Sunday, booths open at noon.
Pets are prohibited.
What: Fort Ligonier Days.
Where: Ligonier Borough.
When: Today through Sunday.
Information: (724) 238-4200 or www.ligonier.com.
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