The annual Zane Grey Festival was a success Saturday, with families attending and participating in the day that was meant to celebrate the western novelist at his home in Lackawaxen, and enjoy other aspects of the region.
Sponsored by the National Park Service, Ingrid Peterec, the Education Specialist for the Upper Delaware River NPS said the festival first began years ago to celebrate Grey's birthday on January 31st, 1872. Initially celebrated in January, the event changed from a winter occasion to a summer celebration. Because Zane Grey came to the region for the natural qualities of the river, she said the Park Service wants to, "tie the natural and the cultural stories with Zane Grey."
The day is meant to be a learning event for families to enjoy many exhibiters who provide a hands-on learning experience. That's a key to the day, she said, where there were several components to aid in the learning experience. There was the chance to touch the pelts and skulls of animals to putting on waders to get the full feel.
Every year, Peterec said the festival grows, with attempts to bring in new exhibitors and programs, while also keeping with the success of original demonstrations. The purpose of the day, she said, is to "give people a greater awareness of the cultural and natural history of the river valley," while also giving people the chance to tour the Zane Grey museum.
Playing the role of Buffalo Jones, John Sullivan an intern with the Park Service demonstrated his skill of lassoing a rope around a cone and other objects. He portrayed the icon because Jones inspired many of Grey's western novels by giving him tours of the west.
Traveling from Bell Harbor Queens, Allison Puckhaber was at the festival with her children Matilda and RJ. She said the family had a great time and she couldn't believe how nice the area is as well as the people.
Playing the role of a carpenter, Park Ranger Ethan Kuhn who happens to own Kuhn's River Country Alpacas was working with children to build bird houses and fire trucks. Referencing his roots, Kuhn's great grandfather actually built the white house that's on the property. Although he's not a carpenter, Kuhn said he loves working with his hands and it was a lot of fun Saturday to work with the kids. Plus, there were a few alpacas at the festival for everyone to enjoy.
Dressed in Civil War clothing, Brett Dirie, age 12 appeared sad Saturday as he beat a drum. His grandfather, Dennis Bernitt explained that Dirie was playing the role of a Civil War drummer boy and that those weren't happy times, so he was supposed to appear sad. As a first sergeant and an infantry rifleman, Bernitt said together with his grandson they participate in Civil War reenactments because of their, "love of history, love of being able to share what we know with the public," which also provides for family time. Although not present, Bernitt said other family members also participate in the shows.
Page 2 of 2 - The various presenters, Peterec said, were great because they provided people with a better awareness of the region. The Zane Grey Festival, she said was the, "perfect venue to do it, under the trees in the back yard, its perfect."