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County Commissioners to Support Additional Promotional Activities in Coming Years

By Earl Bugaile

You can find some kind of a festival for any kind of interest, but it appears that in Washington, the Whiskey Rebellion Festival is gathering additional steam, and within the next few years, it could become one of the biggest events of the summer south of Pittsburgh.

 

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The Whiskey Rebellion Festival is officially open!

Thousands attended this year's festival, held July 10-12 in and around downtown Washington, and thanks to support by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, Washington County Tourism, and the Board of County Commissioners, funding and promotion will be in place to attract an even larger crowd in 2015.

Washington County Commissioners presented the festival with a $15,000 check as a grant to the Whiskey Rebellion committee to promote the annual July celebration in neighboring states with the hope of attracting new tourists.

"The most difficult task for any festival is to get funding," said Tripp Kline, the co-chairman for the 2014 festival. "The county commissioners funding lends legitimacy to what we are trying to do."

The Whiskey Rebellion Festival began in 2011, and members of the 26-member organizing committee said it has grown in size and stature each year. The festival marks the celebration of the Whiskey Rebellion that was centered in Washington County in the 1790s when local farmers protested a federal tax on whiskey and rye. Local farmers took up arms to protest the tax and were met by federal troops sent to the region to enforce the tax. David Bradford, one of the leaders of the protest against the tax, escaped from his home on South Main Street when troops came to the door to arrest him.

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Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughn poses with a check for $15,000 and members of the Washington County Commissioners. The money will be used in the future to promote the Whiskey Rebellion Festival in neighboring states to attract tourists.

"We are really excited about how important tourism is to Washington County," said Commissioner Larry Maggi. "It's why we made a commitment through the Whiskey Rebellion Festival and we want to make sure tourism is an integral part of Washington County's economy. We want to make sure we are bringing tourism, people and business to Washington County and the City of Washington."

"This check compliments our continued investment in downtown Washington," said Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughn. She noted that the city has recently received a $50,000 tourism grant to match a $311,000 grant from the Washington County Local Share Program for the construction of the community pavilion for the Main Street Farmer's Market. Supporting these events will bring visitors and spur economic development in the City of Washington."

She thanked everyone "who makes Washington a better place and for all [you] do."

The Festival opened on the first day of the Washington Farmers' Market and continued through the first evening with a concert by the Washington Symphony Orchestra. Friday night activities included concerts and various food booths. Saturday featured tours of the Bradford and LeMoyne houses, the County Courthouse, a presidential walking tour and a Whiskey Rebellion Re-enactment at Washington Park. Concerts and entertainment continued in downtown Washington, and the weekend's activities included fireworks.

Mr. Kline said the organizing committee has a "real opportunity" to promote the festival in the future.

"It will bring real opportunity, and we could never pull this off without the committee and especially the business community of Washington," Mr. Kline said. "There are great companies and the Chamber of Commerce supported this. We have a real future ahead of us."

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