By Kelly Urban
June 9, 2019 - Windber, Pennsylvania is gearing up again to honor its heritage.
The 2019 Miners’ Memorial Day Festival celebration will be held June 13 through 16 along Graham Avenue, marking the gathering’s 20th anniversary.
Martha Matta (left) and Betty Sekela, both of Windber, dance to the polka music of Johnstown Area Button Box Club on Friday, June 15, 2018, during the Miners’ Memorial Day Weekend in Windber.
Photo by Thomas Slusser
The event, which honors the coal miners who worked and died in the area’s mines, has grown from a small parade to a four-day street festival. Attendees will be treated to attractions including car, motorcycle and truck/ATV shows, live entertainment, street dances each night featuring area bands, fireworks, food and craft vendors, a children’s petting zoo, games and a parade.
“Every year, this grows, and we have more participants this year than ever before,” said Matt Scislowicz, president of Eureka Coal Heritage Foundation, which sponsors the event. “It’s the biggest event that we have in Windber, and it’s a way to celebrate the coal mining industry.”
The festival will open Thursday with a truck and ATV show from 6 to 10 p.m. A street dance featuring DJ 28th and Schmick will begin at 7 p.m. At dusk, organizers will unveil the repaired Miner’s Recognition Wall at Miner’s Park. This past winter, high winds destroyed one of the walls, and it needed to be replaced.
Festivities continue at 5:30 p.m. June 14 when Johnstown Area Button Box Club entertains with polka music at the Gazebo. Kindred Fury will play live music starting at 8 p.m. At dusk, Celestial Fire Twirlers will perform on 15th Street.
On June 15, the opening ceremony will start at 10:30 a.m., followed by a parade at 11 a.m. that will feature AAABA Ambassadors, marching units, floats, school sporting teams and local dignitaries.
“This year, it’ll be the largest parade that we’ve ever had,” Scislowicz said.
A highlight of the day will be the motorcycle show from 5 to 7:30 p.m., which is expected to attract all kinds of bikes, including trikes, custom, touring, cruiser, vintage and sport. The first 100 bikes will receive dash plaques, and cash prizes will be awarded in a variety of categories.
Musical entertainment will include Krazy Kat Daddies at 1 p.m., Orange Fire at 4:30 p.m. and a street dance with the Characters at 8 p.m. A fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. will close out the evening.
“A lot of people come out for the fireworks,” Scislowicz said. “It’s a huge display.”
On June 16, a special Father’s Day antique and classic car show and cruise will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to the top cars. Organizers are asking a $2 donation to enter a vehicle in the show, and dash plaques will be presented to the first 200 vehicles.
“This is one of the biggest car shows in the area, if not the biggest,” Scislowicz said. “Last year, we had over 300 cars, and we’re expecting more this year. We have cars coming from Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, New York and West Virginia.”
Other attractions include a basket raffle and duck race to benefit the Windber Area Museum beginning at 2 p.m.
Food vendors will be located in the parking of Windber Community Building. Craft vendors will be interspersed along Graham Avenue and Miners’ Memorial Park. For more information and a complete schedule, visit www.echf.windberpa.org.