How far can $100 take a young family of five in Westmoreland County? Pretty far, it turns out, if you visit Fort Ligonier Days. This popular festival — attracting more than 100,000 people annually to this town of 1,600 — commemorates the Battle of Fort Ligonier during the French and Indian War, fought on October 12, 1758.
On a clear, cool October Saturday, my husband and I loaded up our three children, ages 16 months to 2 ½ years, and arrived in Ligonier around 10 a.m. We parked ($5) and walked to the Diamond – the town’s main square — to catch the parade. Along the way, we stopped at the local fire department to explore the trucks and gear. We passed onlookers awaiting the parade as we walked up Main Street with our strollers in tow. We even had time to grab a coffee ($1) and hot apple cider ($1) from local vendors.
We reached the Diamond just in time to get a spot about two rows back from the parade route and enjoy a myriad of local high school and college bands, floats, local TV personalities and re-enactors of historic military units. As the parade marched on, we grabbed a gyro ($6), French fries ($6), and drinks ($4). We even treated all three little ones to a vanilla shake ($3) at the local ice cream parlor. Of course, the day wouldn’t have been complete without at least one mess and we had to grab a Ligonier Days t-shirt ($12) for our son as a replacement.
The town was replete with artisans and vendors. Kids Korner was packed with kid-friendly crafts, games, and entertainment. Our son was especially thrilled to meet Super WHY and win a large stuffed prize from the fishing pond ($5). Our little twins took in all of the sights and sounds of the day, mostly from their stroller, but we also let them run around in a local park on the way back to our car.
It was a lovely family day in a picturesque, friendly place and we did it all for $43.
Nicole Ziccarelli blogs periodically for ImaginePittsburgh.com about affordable, family-friendly outings across the Pittsburgh region. An attorney and mother of three, she shares simple, healthy recipes on her blog, Mediterranean Baby.com.