Festivalgoers can explore the heritage of America’s first federally built highway during the 44th Annual National Road Festival, slated for Friday through Sunday with events across 90 miles of present-day Route 40 in Somerset, Fayette and Washington counties.
“It’s an opportunity for people to visit local history with the volunteers who bring this festival to life,’’ said Donna Holdorf, executive director of the National Road Heritage Corridor.
Holdorf added, “Hopefully, people will get out there and welcome the wagon train at a time when we’re trying hard to bring to our children’s attention the history that happens here.’’
If there’s a thread that holds the festival together is the two wagon trains that travel through towns and pass by area landmarks.
The National Pike Wagon Train Association travels west, led by wagon master Doc Sherry and assistant wagon master Don Myers. They gathered for encampment yesterday in Grantsville, Maryland, and head out today for Addison, Somserset County. On Friday, the wagon train continues into Fayette County and the Farmington Volunteer Fire Department with a stop at A.J. McMullen School, part of the Uniontown Area School District, for lunch and to allow the children to visit. On Saturday, the wagon train heads down the Summit with a stop for lunch in Hopwood before heading through Uniontown and onto Mount St. Macrina, just west of Uniontown, where they will rest and have dinner before the wagon train breaks up and the participants head home.
The Wagonier’s Wagon Train travels east across Washington County, led by wagon master J.D. Ridenour. The wagon train gathers Friday morning in Claysville, Washington County, and camps overnight at Washington Park. The wagon train arrives in Scenery Hill at 2 p.m. Saturday for super and an overnight camp. It departs Sunday, heading to the Waleski Farm for lunch around noon and then on to the National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Association around 2 p.m. The wagon train breaks up about 4 p.m.
Participants in the wagon train dress in period costume to portray pioneers who traveled west on the National Road in the early 19th century, showcasing the American spirit.
Holdorf urges the public to come out and greet the wagon trains for their effort.
“The people on the wagon trains take their own time and money to re-enact the importance of the road,’’ said Holdorf, noting the public is able to stop and talk with the participants at their meal stops and encampments.
The festival also includes other re-enactors, exhibits, art, music and food. Visitors can tour tollhouses and taverns while the visitor’s center at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Wharton Township tells the story of the National Road.
The festival schedule includes:
Addison highlights its bicentennial as it celebrates the National Road Festival. The borough has historic buildings open today through Sunday and a special stamp cancellation at the post office available from 9 a.m. to noon today through Saturday. There is 1860s base ball from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the ballfield and an original, historic play called “Who Lived Here?’’ at the United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, there’s community worship at 9 a.m. at the United Methodist Church with a blessing of the pets, followed by a classic car show until 3 p.m. with music by Johnny B Good and vendors on the green. The firefighters host chicken barbecue at the firehall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In addition, the Old Petersburg-Addison Historical Society Inc. will sell its latest book, “County Reminiscences Along the Old Pike,’’ a compilation and reprinting of newspaper articles written by Dr. William Frey Mitchell in 1895 about life along the National Road. Photographs and postcard images are included.
Ohiopyle offers the third annual Wine and Arts Festival noon to 7 p.m. Saturday with crafts, vendors and music, hosted by the Spirit of the River. Ticket sales for spirit tasting only. Must be 21 with valid identification.
Mount Washington Tavern at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Wharton Township announces park staff and volunteers will staff the buildings and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Hopwood welcomes the wagon train around noon Saturday when it stops for lunch at Hopwood Fitness Center. The garden club will sell flowers out of a wagon.
Mount St. Macrina near Uniontown welcomes the wagon train around 3 p.m. Saturday. Mansion tours by Laurel Highlands High School students in period costumes will be given from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12, adults; $5, children ages 6 to 12 and free 5 and under.
Searights Tollhouse in Menallen Township offers guided tours by the Fayette County Historical Society 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission $2, adults; $1, students, children under 12, free.
Abel Colley Tavern and Museum in Menallen Township is open noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and features an exhibit of Native American artifacts, children’s activities, a 19th-century operating telegraph, illustrated story of Ephram Walters, who was captured by Native Americans, and traditional National Road Era menu items and book sale. Admission is $5.
Country Thrift Market in Brownsville will have a tent sale from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and an auction at 1 p.m. Sunday. The market is part of the Greater Washington County Food Bank.
Flatiron Building in Brownsville is open from 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with tours of the Flatiron Building Heritage Museum and Visitor Center that tells the story of the National Road and Industrial Eras and tours of the Frank L. Melega Art Exhibition.
Nemacolin Castle in Brownsville offers history tours noon to 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and ghost tours 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tours are $10, adults; and $4, children 12 and under. On Saturday and Sunday, activities on the grounds include food, crafts vendors, Colonial and Civil War encampments and music. A church service is offered at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
Monongahela River, Railroad and Transportation Museum in Brownsville opens noon to 4 p.m. May Friday through Sunday when the Pittsburgh Garden Railway Society will have a train display.
Waleski Horse Farm in Richeyville has a flea market Friday through Sunday, blue grass music Saturday and welcomes the wagon train Sunday.
Scenery Hill offers an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, and community worship at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. There will also be entertainment, crafts and food both days. The wagon train is welcomed at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Washington has activities 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday with the National Road Antiques Fair, Washington Winery wine tastings (must be 21) and live music from 5-7 p.m., beer tastings (must be 21) at Washington County Brewing Co., Military Timeline with re-enactors at Madeline’s Garden at the LeMoyne House, historic walking tours of the downtown at 1 p.m. (Meet at Main Street Pavilion). Tours of the LeMoyne House and Bradford House are available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Claysville is planning activities for Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit, www.clasyvillepa.com/pike-days.