Monday, October 08, 2007

You have em'

... I know you do. Those festivals and fair(e)s that occur in communities all over North America. I can guarantee, however, that you do not have THIS particularly festival.

What are these men doing?

Why, silly billy, they are celebrating the culmination of The Fabulous 1890s Weekend in Mansfield, PA of course! They are costumed as football players in the 1890s. 1892 to be exact! Because in 1892, in Mansfield, PA, the first night football game was played under electric lights. The first time in the entire WORLD. The story is on the web site, but the short version is that General Electric decided to display their brand new invention, the electric light, at what was then the Mansfield Fair. Mansfield Normal School (now Mansfield University) played Wyoming Seminary (Wilkes Barre, still Wyoming Seminary "under the lights". The reenactment is hysterical, and accurate, including the plays, like the flying wedge. In 1892, there were no electric light anywhere in town, but they brought ONE in for the game.

The "fabulous" festival is little more than a community fair, but for the "football game". However, it embodies the best of small town America. Throughout the day there are demonstrations, like 1890s boxing reenactments; clogging, contra, and square dancing; a Miss 1890's pageant with the ladies dressed in period garb (sorry no pictures of that), hot air balloons...

You name it, but the piece de resistance is the football game reenactment, down to the refs in top hats and tails, and the "medical help" being a bucket of water. (In previous years it has been in the 40's in late September in the evening, and I always felt sorry for the poor kid who ended up getting doused with a bucket of water. This year it was in the high fifties, so it didn't bother me as much.)

These photos were the best I could do with minimal lighting, but I've tried to point out the ONE light pole that is erected in the MIDDLE of the field. The players had to play around it and if a player tripped over it, so be it.

The arrow points to the replica electric light.

To close out the event we have fireworks!!

Accompanied by "The Pride of Pennsylvania" Marching Band from Mansfield University.

I gotta tell ya. It gives me goose bumps, and this year it wasn't from the cold.

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