The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 2, 2013

Family fun: The 25-year-old Forest Hills Festival is still going strong

David Hurst

ST. MICHAEL — The Forest Hills Festival marked its silver anniversary much as it has so many times before: with the bang of fireworks, the aroma of festival fare cooking on grill tops and plenty of music.

“(Making it) 25 years is something. It’s a testament to the good crowds we’ve had and the support we get,” said Paul Kundrod, chief of Adams Township Volunteer Fire No. 2.

The fire company, a longtime festival partner, has organized the event for the past four years, taking the reins in 2010 from longtime planners the 1889 South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club Preservation Society.

Kundrod said the fire department’s vision for the festival is simple: Keep doing what works, and when possible, try to improve on it.

That’s why longtime festival staples return every year, he said.

Approximately 100 craft vendors lined Berwin Wayside Festival Park on Sunday, selling a wide range of items like homemade dips, lamps and painted wooden yard ornaments.

Thirty-six food vendors also were busy serving hot sausage sandwiches, cheesesteaks, funnel cakes and other festival goodies, while bands continuously played on the ground’s stage.

Edith Vitez of Mine 37 said the “good food” and basket raffles bring her back each year.

She said she hasn’t had much luck on the baskets yet, and was hopeful this was her year.

“I always come with my family,” she said. “The grandkids love the games.”

It’s all fun and games for Gabriel Nginyo, too.

He said he spent the first hour of his visit playing golf and other children’s games or gliding down an inflatable slide.

His father, Joe, had a much simpler goal.

“I came to eat,” he said, showing off a plate of funnel cake and a package of deer jerky.

Thanks partly to cooperative weather, the Labor Day weekend event has been a hit so far, Kundrod said.

Sunday night’s event concluded with the annual fireworks display by Northern Cambria-based Starfire Corp.

It’s a $10,500 expense paid entirely by donations and corporate sponsors, Kundrod and fire company President Kirk Moss said.

“We’re so thankful for the support we get,” Kundrod said.

Other festival proceeds benefit the park itself, he said.

The event continues today. Admission and parking are free.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at