By Dave Zuchowski

Drive down the long and steep hill on Route 88 from Coal Center, and you’ll pass through a chain of small towns that skirt the Monongahela River.

Seamlessly linked like beads on a string, they continue north with barely perceptible boundaries save for some welcoming signs. Starting with Elko in the south, the sequence of small boroughs that follows includes Roscoe, Stockdale and Allenport with Long Branch up the hill from Roscoe.

This past November, the five communities got together to start planning the inaugural 5 Town Fall Festival, an event that hopes to make use of a beautiful park shared by the five communities whose total population is between 2,200 and 2,500 residents. The park, just under 50 acres, was established in 1962.

Scheduled from 11 a.m. to dusk on Sept. 25 at 5 Town Park, Rich Allen Way in Allenport, the festival will feature children’s games, performances by The Wild World of Animals of Bentleyville, food and craft vendors, music by disc jockey Marty Shemansky, games of chance, a food drive, a photo booth and a film to top off the day with popcorn and glow sticks.

The idea germinated from a couple of chance encounters on election day 2020 when Rob Deavers, president of the 5 Town Community Event Association, talked to Roscoe Mayor Tom Wilkinson about organizing some community events. Other than the annual community yard sale, held the first weekend in August, and a coordinated Halloween parade and trick or treat schedule, the towns staged little else in the way of events throughout the year.

A couple of hours after Deavers met with the mayor, Roscoe resident Janelle Carpenter also approached the mayor about organizing something at the park. Wilkinson replied by referring her to Deavers.

“My son, Liam, plays soccer at the park, which I think is very beautiful,” Carpenter said. “When I asked when it held the last festival I found out it had been back in 1994 for a centennial celebration.”

After contacting Deavers, the two organizers decided to start brainstorming. They held a three-person Zoom meeting, which added Marlene Pritchard of Roscoe to their ranks.

“Ever since, it’s been an uphill climb to put the event together,” Carpenter said. “We went to the different borough meetings and created our own Facebook page, First Annual 5 Town Fall Festival.

To be able to solicit donations, the event organizers also sought recognition by the Pennsylvania Department of State Bureaus of Corporations and Charitable Organization.

With help for the paperwork from Wood Accounting Services, LLC of Uniontown, they got the necessary recognition as the 5 Town Community Event Association. Since then, they could secure funding from T and T Printing, Highway Appliance, Luntsky’s Market & More, Equipment Connection, Bryan’s Auto and Wood Accounting Services, LLC.

The festival will also feature a chili cook-off which will be judged by a panel of three. The first-place winner will take home a wooden laser-engraved cutting board, while the second and third-place winners will receive a laser-engraved wooden spoon. The Roscoe United Methodist Church will also hold a collection of nonperishable food items.

“We hope to have as many as 20 vendors, and are always looking for more,” Carpenter said. “Vendor items available for purchase include soaps & bath bombs, custom tumblers, home decor, wind chimes, customized T-shirts, wooden items, spooky planted succulents, laser cut wood items and so much more!”

Food available for purchase includes burgers, hot dogs and fries by Taters, barbecue by Dirty Dick’s and homemade fudge, hardtack candies, chocolate-covered bacon, gourmet marshmallows and candy apples by Baum Azz candy.

All proceeds from the festival will go to the 5 Town Community Event Association for future events.

“I have a whole shopping list of ideas starting with a Christmas home decorating contest,” Deavers said. “As to the future [of the festival], we’re not going away. We’re only going to grow.”

One of the things he hopes to do is use 3 Town Park even more. At the moment, the expansive park has two ball fields, two pavilions, a brick grilling pit, two concession stands and several walking trails. If things go as planned, the park will also host the annual 5 Town Fall Festival.

“For children growing up in our communities, we’re hoping that the festival is something they’ll be able to look forward to year after year,” Carpenter said.

Vendors wanting to inquire about setting up at the event should contact festival organizers on the Facebook page First Annual 5 Town Fall Festival. For more information, call 724-797-1675.

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