Boalsburg on Memorial Day

Ever since I’ve lived in State College I’ve been wanting to go to Boalsburg on Memorial Day, since it is one of the towns that claims to have started observance of the day. Today the weather was absolutely spectacular; I checked in on my firs that I have growing in the greenhouse right now and then headed south to historic Boalsburg. After parking I wandered down Church Street to Main Street, where I checked out the various vendors and displays set up in tents.

Peoplewalking on Main Street in Boalsburg.

After seeing the vendors I caught up with a new PSCGers. While we were talking I watched some volunteers lower the large flag on display and untwist a tangle that had developed, then re-raise the flag.

The flag is untangled and re-raised.

One of the great things about the Boalsburg Memorial Day festivities is a pie contest. The best part is that immediately after the winners are announced slices of pie are sold for a $1.

The pie contest has ended, let the slicing begin.

As I waited in the crowd one of the pies caught me eye. I could tell it featured blueberries, but there was not a label on the pie identifying it (most pies had a little flag stating their identity, this one did not). Feeling brave–and hey, it was only a dollar, what’s the worst that could happen?–I requested “the unmarked one.” It was a very good decision.

The rightful winner of the pie contest.

My guess is that it was a blueberry rhubarb pie, with some seasonings I could not identify. It was the only piece of pie that I had, but I refuse to believe any of the other pies were better. While it might not have received formal recognition, it was a winner to me.

A great sign.

In a storage barn at the Heritage Museum I saw a great old sign. It was from the forester’s office and threatened a $25 fine for tree or shrub removal or injury. If the fine was not enough deterrent, the fine print states that “arrest my be made without warrant . . .” Protect those plants.

At the Pond Field a Civil War re-enactment took place in the afternoon. The Confederate force was Hampton’s Legion Artillery, while the Union force was the 148th PA Volunteer Infantry.

The cannons were quite loud.

Hampton’s Legion Artillery in action.

In the background of the field there were several things that destroyed the setting. Cars, for one. BMX bikers, for another. I find the picture below amusing, notice the BMX bikers peering from behind the ramp where they are hiding while the musket fire carries on around them.

BMX bikers were not really present at Civial War battles.

The skirmish developed quickly. The Confederate force was pushed back and fought as they retreated (we are in the North, after all).

In the haze following musket fire the drummer boy plays.

Union soldiers grouped up briefly, then charged after the Confederate soldiers.

Union soldiers prepare to chase the enemy.

Some Confederates chose to stay in place in the open field, taking out an advancing soldier or two before being gunned down.

Refusing to run.

When the Union force overwhelmed the Confederate troops they were forced to surrender. One unarmed Confederate soldier tackled a Union soldier; they wrestled. It was rather realistic–much more so than the WWF–and the distance even made the final moment look authentic when Billy Yank pulled out a Bowie knife and ended the fight (seen in the final picture).

The closing scene: hand-to-hand combat.

As the spectators clapped for the performers I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. This little play we saw recalls a time when Americans killed Americans over differences. It’s tough to be happy when you stop to think about it.

A closing note: A band called The Screaming Ducks was playing during the afternoon, I noticed this in the program. Their name almost inspired me to stick around to hear them. . .


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