The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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October 13, 2012

48th Bedford fall festival goes beyond foliage

BEDFORD — Pirates, mermaids, sailors and elegant ladies captivated visitors to Bedford on Saturday.

Dozens of children and a few adults were invited to act out roles in the story titled “The Pirates of Buccaneer Isle.”

“I think our main goal is to jump-start the imagination,” said Jason Bisko, storyteller and video technician for Middle-earth Studios in Allentown. “We have a medium for that.”

The interactive theater was part of the Bedford’s Fall Foliage Festival.

The festival is in its 48th year and draws an estimated 70,000 visitors during consecutive weekends.

The festival concludes today.

Middle-earth has been staging drama at the festival for 14 years.

The story line goes like this:

By representing themselves as wealthy noblemen, a group of lonely, shifty pirates entice a party of noble English ladies to sail to their tropical island.

The pirates want the women to become their brides, but the plan is foiled by a colony of mermaids and the efforts of the brave sailors of a ship named the Flying Pegasus.

“This little play is definitely awesome,” said Melisha Souders of Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

Souders and her daughter, 3-year-old Reese, played the roles of English ladies.

So to did Lauren Metrik, 3, and her sister, Emily, 8, of Altoona.

“It’s pretty cool,” said their dad, Michael Metrik. “This is actually the third year that both of them have been doing this.”

The family has been attending the festival for 11 years.

“The thing that my daughters look forward to the most is coming to do the show,” he said.

It is important to get youngsters involved in interactive drama, which expands the imagination, said Adam Swartz, storyteller and puppeteer.

“Especially in today’s world, I think it’s much more important to have that interactive quality you don’t get when you’re at home watching television,” he said.

The storytelling group will conduct three plays today.

The festival includes more than 400 crafters, live entertainment, a quilt show and sale, antique car parade and the 28th annual juried fine arts exhibit.

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