By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
NORTHUMBERLAND — What began in 1972 as a labor of love of country — a bicentennial festival — has become the annual Pineknotters Days, now in its 41st year, one of the Valley’s leading weeklong festivals, attracting thousands of people from throughout the region to Northumberland borough.
“The original group of organizers liked doing this so much that they decided to keep the tradition of a patriotic festival going around July 4,” said Mike McWilliams, of Northumberland, co-chairman of Pineknotter Days.
In 1990, the Kiwanis club began overseeing the celebration, going as far as setting up a separate structure within its organization to work on the yearly street festival.
McWilliams said he has been pleased at the celebration’s growth.
“There are some nights when we’ll have thousands of people come to hear a band like Re-Creation, which has a lot of fans,” he said.
Each year, 25 to 30 vendors set up around King Street Park, selling food and offering up games to play.
“You’d be surprised by how few people put this all together,” McWilliams said. “Seven to eight people do the work. Our Kiwanis chapter only has about 17 active members.”
He is concerned about the future of Pineknotter Days. Not because everyone who attends doesn’t enjoy it, but because “it’s so hard to get volunteers to help out.”
Still, when the festival gets rolling, there’s not a better feeling he has of accomplishment. “It’s a great family destination, wonderful fun for families and that makes everything we do worth it,” he said.
Here’s a lineup of events:
- A soapbox race will kick off the celebration at 8 a.m. Saturday at King and Fourth streets.
- On Sunday, a community church service will begin at 7 p.m. in the King Street Park gazebo.
- Monday events include entertainment by Re-Creation from 7 to 10 p.m. and presentation of the Pineknotter Good Citizenship Award at 7 and Pineknotter of the Year award at 8.
- Tuesday’s entertainment will be presented by Memory Lane from 7 to 10 p.m.
- The Priestley-Forsyth Memorial Library book sale, one of the area’s biggest, begins Wednesday in Christ United Methodist Church, Front and King streets on the park, and runs through July 6. Book sale hours are 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, 5 to 8 p.m. July 5 and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 6. Last year, the sale raised $2,100.
- Wednesday’s entertainment will be by the Badless from 6 to 10 p.m.
- Thursday’s events include entertainment by Billy Dee and Rosie from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., a balloon animal artist from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a chicken barbecue by the Tuckahoe Fire Company at 11 a.m. and a drum circle at 2 p.m.
- On July 5, the Pineknotter Car Show will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. and the 60’s Boys will perform from 7 to 10 p.m.