SALTSBURG — It’s a double-barreled celebration in Saltsburg this weekend as the community on the banks of the Kiskiminetas River holds its annual Canal Days Festival and at the same time marks the town’s dodransbicentennial anniversary.
What’s that, you say?
That’s what I said until I looked at the cover of the history of Saltsburg booklet that I purchased at the Rebecca B. Hadden Stone House Museum and found out that dodransbicentennial means 175th.
The old stone house on Point Street was a busy place Friday evening where they were selling festival pins for a couple bucks in support of the museum and the anniversary festivities.
Jack Maguire, one of the kingpins at the museum and the Saltsburg Historical Society, was busy doing his thing promoting the borough.
I swear he must have salt water running through his veins as he devotes his time and skills to this tiny ’burg that, back in the day, was the third leading producer of salt in the nation.
A retired PennDOT engineer, Maguire strives to preserve the past and make Saltsburg one of the top tourist attractions in the area.
And standing right behind him with the same vision is P.J. Hruska, council president and dedicated resident, who was roaming around the festival with a sharp eye searching for any means for community improvement.
One of the current priorities is the old “mule barn” along the canal path, where the festival is held.
Several years ago a group interested in preserving the town’s history formed Townspeople Inc., and they bought the building that at one time also housed the W. R. McIlwain Store and Warehouse.
Since that time the structure has been completely gutted and, according to Maguire, as funding is granted, it is projected to be the new home of the Saltsburg Library and could include a computer lab and double as a tourist hub.
Others involved in Townspeople Inc. include Ed Peffer, owner of P.J. Brown’s Restaurant, and two Kiski alums, Craig Spitzer, entrepreneur and ’83 graduate, and David Conrad, movie and TV actor and an ’85 grad.
Conrad was one of the speakers at Kiski’s 125th year celebration held last weekend.
The emcee at that event, Alan Andreini, introduced Conrad and joked that he had purchased a “bachelor pad” in Saltsburg. That drew a laugh from the crowd.
Other speakers included James P. Moore Jr., a professor at Georgetown University; Marshall Goldberg, a lawyer and writer who has written and produced television shows such as “Diff’rent Strokes,” “The Jeffersons,” “Paper Chase” and “Newhart,” among many others; and Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, who now has his own show and is a regular on late-night TV.
Hanna had the crowd roaring with his humor, recounting some of his experiences with late-night TV hosts.
Canal Days concludes today at 6 p.m., so you still have time to hear polka music by Ray Skovenski and enjoy an evening meal from the variety of foods available.