Photos by Rick Hiduk
Well-planned and well-attended events such as NEPA Bluegrass (top) and county fairs are the perfect starting point for a family reunion in the Endless Mountains. Staff members at the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau in Tunkhannock are ready to help local residents craft a week or weekend full of activities geared to families.
With the Endless Mountains region already a hotbed for “destination weddings,” the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau (EMVB) also invites local residents to “build” on their family reunions this summer or fall by pairing family gatherings with activities already on the tourism agency’s Calendar of Events.
“Our region’s county fairs are a perfect example of family-friendly events that already offer a wide range of attractions to suit everyone from toddlers to grand parents,” said EMVB executive director Jean Ruhf. “There are also clusters of events running from Memorial Day Weekend into the fall that can add more value and memories to any family reunion.”
Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Wyoming Counties are brimming with scenic parks and other unique venues to host large family gatherings, and EMVB’s staff is ready to help plan a family reunion in conjunction with featured activities nearby or within a few hours of a central location.
During the last weekend of May, for example, the NEPA Bluegrass Festival at Lazybrook Park in Wyoming County runs from Thursday to Sunday, May 28 to 31. Meanwhile, the Endless Mountains Farm Fest in Susquehanna County and the Worlds End Ultramarathon in Sullivan County are slated for Saturday, May 30 a relatively short drive to the north or west from Tunkhannock, respectively.
“The whole family can camp at Lazybrook Park, Salt Springs Park, or Worlds End State Park and set out on day trips to visit the other parks and take part in activities there,” Ruhf suggested. There are also modern hotels in the Tunkhannock area that are central to all three events.
Between Friday and Sunday, June 19 to 21, families can build a reunion around the Susquehanna Celebration in Laceyville, a Summer Solstice Celebration on Saturday in Montrose, and Father & Son Sunday at Salt Springs Park.
County Fair season kicks off in August with the Harford Fair in Susquehanna County leading the pack from Aug. 17 to 22. Wyoming and Sullivan Counties hold their fairs simultaneously from Sept. 2 to 7. Each fair highlights agriculture and crafts traditional to the respective county and features top-notch country performers, with Trace Adkins and Chris Cagle already confirmed for the Harford and Sullivan County fairs, respectively.
“Our county fairs have a lot of history behind them and draw thousands of patrons every year for their exhibits, competitions, entertainment, and rides,” Ruhf stated.
Not long after the fair grounds are emptied, the leaves begin to change color and the famously-vivid fall foliage season in the Endless Mountains takes hold, with numerous harvest-related festivals and activities planned to engage entire families. Add to that a special anniversary celebration in Nicholson in September of the Tunkhannock Viaduct – the largest concrete railroad bridge in America – and any family reunion ascends to a new level.
A detailed listing of more than a hundred family-friendly events scheduled through March 2016 can be found in EMVB’s Calendar of Events, which is available at the Endless Mountains Visitors Center on Route 6 west of Tunkhannock or by calling the visitors center at 570-836-5431 or 800-769-8999.
“Once a family focuses on a particular event or selects a date for their reunion,” Ruhf related, “our staff can work with them to enhance the gathering by adding additional activities like guided tours and sightseeing opportunities.” EMVB can also direct families toward suitable accommodations, which include bed and breakfasts, guests houses, hotels, and numerous local campgrounds.