Past meets present at Pike Days

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Our forefathers who traveled the National Road in the early 19th century likely didn’t anticipate the day when locals would annually display old coffee pots and workout tapes on their front lawns.


But then again, our American predecessors also didn’t have deep-fried Oreos. In an unusual blend of past meets present, the annual Pike Festival along Route 40 has become a beloved occasion for horse cart riding, socializing and enjoying live entertainment and a seemingly endless supply of food.


Regular attendees also have mastered the art of rubbernecking while driving in order to preview the lawn sales before making a parking space commitment.


Pike Days festivities have been held for years along the 90-mile corridor of America’s first federally funded highway. The National Road stretches from Maryland into Pennsylvania and takes in such communities as Addison, Uniontown and Brownsville before reaching Washington County.


Saturday’s activities were dampened by spurts of rain, but the crowds re-emerged at first glimpse of sunshine. Claysville residents hopped onto a horse cart and checked out the sales while riding around town.


And, while most people attend Pike Days for the yard sales, they stay for the food. Carnival-style vendors along Route 40 served up racks of ribs, boxes of kettle corn and true-to-size “bricks” of French fries. If it could be barbecued or deep fried, it was on the menu.


This year was the first Pike Festival for Mike Rose, 58, of Houston. He was selling an assortment of items, including a decorative matador and bull set that had been in his family for three generations. Like many yard sale hosts, his reluctant decision to sell was based on a lack of space at home.


Rose’s grandmother kept the figurines on her fireplace mantel, but he isn’t sure why she bought them in the first place.


“They weren’t Spanish,” Rose said. “They didn’t like bull-fighting. They were German.”


Several yard sales lined the roads in Claysville, but as one Claysville woman admitted, Scenery Hill is “the Cadillac” of Pike Festival locales.


Scenery Hill had an array of its own yard sales, but also hosted some unusual crafters. Barbara Horne sold quite a few wind chimes made from Coors and Miller Lite beer cans.


“Those really went today,” said Horne, pointing to her “redneck bird baths” made from toilet plungers. Horne has been making these quirky crafts for about 30 years as a hobby.


Jeff Lenzi, whose family owns a taxidermy and graphic design company in Donora, had a table set up with decorated deer skulls and lamps fashioned from antlers.


Over the Pike Festival weekend, his chandeliers made from deer antlers proved to be popular.


“People talk about coming back for lamps,” Lenzi said. “We’ll see. We’ll just keep selling them, and if we need more, we’ll make more.”


Many businesses travel from out of town to temporarily set up shop along Route 40 during Pike Days. The festivities, including live music and performances, will continue today starting at 9:30 a.m. in Scenery Hill.


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