Organizers, sponsoring partners and almost 1,200 interpreters, craftsmen and volunteers are fine-tuning countless details for the opening of the 2019 edition of the Hay Creek Festival.
Here festival-goers will witness what a day in the 19th century Joanna Furnace community would have looked like and once again, this community event will indeed be a family experience for ages 6 to 60.
Running Sept. 6 to 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the 43rd annual event is held on the grounds of the historic Joanna Furnace Ironworks, an 18th and 19th Century charcoal fueled iron furnace and community located three miles north of Morgantown on Route 10.
Here visitors travel through time and experience life in a rural industrial iron-making village. The interpretation timeline runs from the beginning of the furnace in 1791 up to the 1950s. Visitors will experience the sights, sounds, aromas and activities which have long since disappeared from contemporary life.
The Hay Creek Festival is truly a one-of-a-kind “living history adventure”. The exhibits and demonstrations include traditional early American crafts, a contemporary craft market, living history presentations and interpretations, vintage industrial revolution era working equipment, threshing demonstrations, a working sawmill, children’s hands-on activities, a traditional four-square kitchen herb garden, Civil War and World War II encampments, antique vehicles, steam engines and tractors, traditional folk music presentations, homemade festive foods and more.
The Early American Crafts area includes domestic and village industry demonstrations of skills which were necessary for a self-sustaining rural industrial community through the 18th and 19th centuries. Open fire cooking and bake oven demonstrations will take place throughout the weekend. Samples of these early American foods will be available.
This year’s Creekside Crafts Market will include such items as redware pottery, ceramics, dolls cloths, soaps & lotions, jewelry, woodcrafts, antiques and many home décor items.
In the Mechanical Technology area, visitors will see an assortment of early gas and steam engines, models, antique cars & tractors, sawmill and threshing demonstrations and a line shaft powering 100-year old industrial machinery in the Joanna Furnace Mechanical Technology Building.
The Civil War Encampment will celebrate how soldiers lived and trained in the mid-nineteenth century. Visitors can chat with Civil War era soldier and civilian re-enactors to learn more about that epic 19th-century time. Reenactors will also offer a mini skirmish each day at the festival.
For the first time, visitors will be able to see the preserved bosh, which is the interior lining of the blast furnace itself. Joanna Furnace is extraordinarily fortunate to have one of the last remaining boshes in the eastern United States. The first phase of the bosh project was completed recently by International Chimney Corporation. The bosh can be seen from inside the Casting House. This $160,000 project has been in research and planning for almost five years. This preservation project has been underwritten in part by grants from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Berks County Community Foundation.
In addition, visitors will be able to witness the restoration project of the Joanna Furnace Wheelwright Shop. This new historic building will be in the construction process and will later house the Parke Fleming wheelwright tool collection. The wheelwright shop will be used for live interpretation of the wheelwright’s activities. This building has been underwritten by an anonymous donor family and friends and members of the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association.
These two 2019 projects together have a price tag of almost $300,000 and are dedicated to interpreting the important iron heritage of Joanna Furnace and the entire Hay Creek Valley.
There will be children’s activities galore throughout the weekend, including archaeological segments, candle and papermaking, early American games, Civil War marching and drilling. Children should pick up their “chores list” at the festival gate which will feature all the hands-on activities at the event. Upon completion of a variety of tasks children will be rewarded with a free wagon ride.
Then there is the food. The event is truly a feasting paradise for festival goers! The wide menu is prepared and served by Hay Creek volunteers and community non-profit organizations and includes chicken pot pie, hamburgers, hot dogs, turkey and roast beef sandwiches, festival-favorite Mabel’s open fire cooked soups, macaroni & cheese, breads, hand-dipped ice cream, funnel cakes, French fries and so much more.
The Iron Master’s Pancake and Sausage Breakfast is offered both Saturday and Sunday, from 8 to 11 a.m.
Truly, a community and regional historic family event, the Hay Creek Festival returns a great benefit to the local community by supporting various participating non-profit organization partners throughout the area. During the past 18 years, the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association has contributed more than $400,000 to local participating non-profit organizations.
Friday, Sept. 6 is Student Day at the Hay Creek Festival with reduced rate admission for K-12 students and discounted admissions for teachers and chaperones. A Student Day registration form can be downloaded at www.haycreek.org.
Admission is $10 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 to 12, free for children 5 and younger. Parking is free on the festival grounds on Friday. Free continuously running shuttle buses will be provided from an offsite parking area from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For the safety of visitors, all are encouraged to park safely on the easy access lots just off Route 10. For more information, visit www.haycreek.org