The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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September 8, 2013

Artisans imitate frontier life in Somerset

SOMERSET — Richard Fisher was showing folks how blacksmiths years ago shaped iron into usable items while Owen Raygor was among volunteers making coffee in the way of the pioneers.

The two were among 125 artisans, musicians and entertainers who interpreted the heritage of southwestern Pennsylvania during the 44th annual Mountain Craft Days, held Friday through Sunday at the Somerset Historical Center on Route 985 north of Somerset.

Fisher, a Greensburg resident, was forging clangers for triangular dinner bells in a style that was popular during the 18th century.

“It takes an hour to make one because I am scrolling the end to give it finesse,” said the retired used-auto-parts salesman Sunday afternoon.

Raygor, of Somerset, said that during pioneer days, coffee was made by first roasting coffee beans over a fire.

“We then grind them by hand and add the hot water,” he said.

Suzanne Bell of Somerset was demonstrating how the pioneers made butter.

Pioneers took cream and stirred it in a dasher churn until it solidified, she said.

Stephanie Everett of Hollidaysburg, along with her husband and two daughters, was playing Celtic folk songs for the crowd.

“We are playing music that was popular when the immigrants came to America,” she said, adding that those folk songs always tell a story.

Jay Ziegler of  Washington, Washington County, was using a set of chisels to carve wooden carousel horses the way craftsmen made them 150 years ago.

Shawnee Wagner of Warriors Mark, Huntingdon County, who was at the event with her husband, Clark, said the carousel horses were beautiful.

“We live near DelGrosso’s Amusement Park, so the carousel horses remind me of when I was a little girl,” she said.

Terry and Charlotte Crissey of Elton were enjoying the event with the remainder of their family.

“We love to hear people say that there is nothing to do in Johnstown,” Terry Crissey said in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

If someone says that, it is no one’s fault but their own because there are fine events being held in the area almost every weekend, he said.

Mark Ware, director of the Somerset Historical Center, said the attendance was one of the best in years with 7,000 to 8,000 expected to be the final tally.

“The weather, terrific artisans and volunteers contributed to the success of the festival,” he said.

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