Tarentum’s Fall Festival opens three-evening run with nice crowds, good weather | TribLIVE.com
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Chuck Biedka
Jayden Hopkins, 6, (center) proudly clutches a stuff animal he won Thursday during the opening night of the Tarentum Fall Festival. He was with his father, Devon Hopkins of Pittsburgh, and sister Carson, 8 months. The festival continues nightly through Saturday.

Ariana Hernandez found another favorite thing at Tarentum’s annual Fall Festival.

A large, colorful slide gained the attention of the 5-year-old Harrison youngster and many others on Thursday evening, the first night of the annual festival that is sponsored by Summit Hose Company and Tarentum Recreation Board at Riverview Memorial Park.

“This is pretty awesome for the community,” said Ariana’s father, Alex Hernandez.

Ariana sat on her father’s lap for the first trip down the slide. For at least the next two rides, she walked up the steps to the top of the steep slide by herself.

“Look at her,” said her mother, Taylor Rzeckowski. “Now, she wants to go by herself.”

Many other carnival rides, food and crafts booths seemed busy but not crowded. The festival also has bingo and a 50-50 raffle.

“Yes. We’re doing more business this year than we did on the first day of the festival last year,” said vendor Christie McMullen, who lives near Seven Springs and sells cotton candy and other festival treats.

Devon Hopkins of Pittsburgh said he was enjoying the festival’s atmosphere as he strolled along with son Jayden, 6, and daughter Carson, 8 months.

Hopkins just bought a house in Tarentum that he is renovating.

”I love it,” Hopkins said of the festival. “It’s for families.”

Harrison resident Howard Bronder agreed: “This is a nice event. It’s family oriented.”

In the background, the Wanna Beatles band was belting out hits of the Fab Four.

Nathan Stemen, of New Kensington, danced to the strains of “Help!” while holding his 8-month-old son Declan.

Closer to the stage, most heads were bouncing to the beat of Beatles’ songs.

“They do good renditions of The Beatles and don’t just dress up like them,” said Mark Johnson, of New Kensington. “I always come to this event and I had to see the Wanna Beatles again.”

Many firefighters and recreation board members were helping to prepare food.

“It’s a major fundraiser for our volunteer firefighters,” said Summit Hose Chief Josh Fox. “This weather is good, and we hope it continues.”

Some Summit Hose firefighters also stood on standby at a Lower Burrell fire company Thursday afternoon while Lower Burrell firefighters were helping fight a massive fire in downtown New Kensington.

Fire company treasurer Dave Kengor is hopeful the festival will do well.

“I hope we can clear, maybe, $8,000,” he said.

Fox said the fire company will have a “Touch-A-Truck” opportunity Saturday along First Avenue near the festival toward the Tarentum Marina. Numerous fire, emergency and police units will have vehicles on display.

“It gives people a change to see the vehicles the departments have and talk with fire volunteers,” he said.

“This is a nice community event. It’s family oriented and it brings people together. They should come out and listen to the music and get a nice bite,” said recreation board President Carrie Fox, the fire chief’s mother.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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