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Fall Furnace Fest, Harry Hand return to Pine Grove Furnace State Park this weekend

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The Fall Furnace Fest returns to Pine Grove Furnace State Park this weekend.

Held around Fuller Lake, the free event will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s a community arts and crafts festival with an emphasis on history,” said Andre Weltman, chairman of the Friends of the Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the group that organizes the event.

“This is a big draw for our corner of Cumberland County,” he said. “People come from a distance to enjoy this little festival.”

Included in the lineup of weekend activities will be demonstrations centered on birds of prey, candle making, cider pressing and charcoal making. There will be a face painter, a sketch artist, a blacksmith, a broom maker, a beekeeper and alpacas. Historical reenactors will be on hand at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.

“We will have hayrides that run in a big loop on roads around the edge of the park,” Weltman said. “That’s very popular.”

Craft and food vendors are expected both days along with a schedule of musical arts that will perform in front of the Fuller Lake restroom building. Woodsy Owl and Smokey the Bear will roam the grounds.

Typically, the Furnace Fest draws 6,000 to 8,000 people. Organizers plan to follow state guidelines regarding COVID-19 by encouraging attendees to wear a mask when they can’t socially distance.

“Even though the festival is outdoors, it’s a certain amount of crowding,” Weltman said. “We ask people to wear a mask, but it’s voluntary.”

Hairy Hand legend

As in prior years, families will be able to purchase a pumpkin from the Friends group on Saturday to carve using tools that are provided. At 6:15 that evening, the lit pumpkins will be paraded through the festival site to the Fuller Lake beach for loading onto a raft.

The annual Hairy Hand at Fuller Lake event will then start around 6:45 p.m. A local ghost story, Hairy Hand involves the spirit of a miner who drowned in Fuller Lake while trying to swim ashore to get a piece of pumpkin pie from his wife.

While the story is folklore, the setting has history. Fuller Lake was an iron ore quarry in the 19th century, Weltman said. Charcoal was used to power the industry, he said.

The Ironmasters Mansion will be open for self-guided tours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days of the festival. History docents will be on the covered south porch of the mansion to greet visitors. Masks will be required inside the building.

New museum exhibit

The Appalachian Trail Museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The public is invited from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday to attend the opening of a new exhibit “Celebrating a Century of the A.T. Vision: Benton MacKaye & Sky Parlor.”

The exhibit tells the story of MacKaye – a conservationist, regional planner and wilderness preservationist who first envisioned and then proposed a long-distance trail following the Appalachian mountain range.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publishing of his article, “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning” in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects. The article established MacKaye as the founder of the grassroots effort to establish a trail accessible to the country’s heavily populated East Coast.

Friends raffle

The Friends group will hold a raffle drawing at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Participants do not need to be present at the drawing to win one of four prizes to choose from — a dishwasher, an electric range, a kayak or a history poster.

Tickets will be sold Saturday and Sunday at a cost of $5 each or five tickets for $20. All proceeds benefit the Pine Grove Furnace Park through the Friends group, which is a chapter of the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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