Parade added to Knotweed Festival
It has overtaken the banks of the Conemaugh River, blocking the view from the Riverfront Trail and encroaching on areas around the bridge and train tracks.
But rather than complain about the highly invasive Japanese Knotweed — which was planted to stop erosion — Blairsville residents have instead created a festival, not quite in its honor, but more as a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the plant.
“We would love to get rid of it, but we can’t,” said Carol Persichetti, chairwoman of the Knotweed Festival. “Instead of complaining, we decided to have a festival.”
This the second year for the festival, held by the Blairsville Community Development Authority.
This year’s edition is set for Saturday.
New to the festival this year is a parade, which will kick off the activities at 10:30 a.m. on East Market Street.
There will be about 45 vendors, nearly double from last year.
A new booth, Knotweed Knovelities, will have a focus on items made from knotweed or related somehow to the plant, including knotweed soap, jam, tea and muffins, aprons and T-shirts, and painted pictures of knotweed on slate.
Other new events include a K-9 demonstration, a butterfly and moth exhibit, and a bee and honey demonstration.
Popular activities from last year will once again be offered, such as a scavenger hunt and nature walks on the Riverfront Trail, with a golf cart ride available to those unable to walk the trail on their own.
Entertainment is also planned, including the Diamond Dolls twirlers and All That Jazz dance group.
Children’s activities include printing on cloth bags, face painting, story times and games.
There is also plenty of food on the menu, including the popular German food from last year, as well as new additions of Chinese food, pizza, apple dumplings, haluski, Italian hoagies and more.
While knotweed might not be very enjoyable, Persichetti said the festival will be. And it offers a chance to support local vendors, a number of which are churches, Scout groups and local organizations.
And Boy Scout Jon Graff will be in the process of building a new pavilion at the trail head, part of his Eagle Scout project.
The festival is not a fundraiser for BCDA, and groups retain the profit from festival sales.
A benefit bake sale will be held for Sharon’s Restaurant and Lounge and Chaek’s Window ice cream shop, both destroyed in a fire July 30.
The festival highlights the good things happening in Blairsville and shows just how far the town has come, Persichetti said.
“I think we’ve come a long way in the last few years,” she said. “I’m proud of our little town, how the town looks, how it’s improved every year.”
And for those who haven’t yet had the chance to see the Riverfront Trail, this is a good opportunity.
“It’s a yearly celebration of the fact that positive things are happening in Blairsville,” she said.