Oil Heritage Festival in full swing

The 39th annual Oil Heritage Festival began Thursday and continues through Sunday. (By Richard Sayer)

The 39th annual Oil Heritage Festival kicked off Thursday with the Oil Heritage Festival Junior Olympics, Children’s Parade and Oil Heritage Queen crowning. Festivities continue through Sunday with events such as the Bike ‘n Brew, the Oil Heritage Festival parade and the Oil Heritage art shows.

Today’s big events are the City of Oil City children’s pool party and the Bike ‘n Brew.

The pool party will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at the James A. Nelles Memorial Swimming Pool in Hasson Heights. This event is open to children ages four through 12 but will be canceled in the case of rain. Children 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Future Leaders’ and Entrepreneurs’ Exchange will host the first Oil Heritage Festival Bike ‘n Brew from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Cornplanter Square on Seneca Street.

This event is new to the festival and one of the most exciting events this year, according to Venango Area Chamber of Commerce intern Janie Cassady.

This event includes biking opportunities throughout the area from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a brewfest in the evening. Ten bike routes have been created for the event and there are also three different biking information sessions throughout the day.

Bikers may also download the Strava mobile app to help them find routes and track rides. Each completed route throughout the day gets the biker one entry into a raffle.

The brewfest will occur from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in and around the historic Oil City National Bank Building on Seneca Street and will feature both local brews and ones from out of state. Tickets can be purchased at the door at $35 for participants and $15 for designated drivers.

The annual Oil Heritage Festival parade is the big event on Saturday and starts at 5 p.m. This year’s theme for the parade is “What I Love Best About Oil City.”

The theme came from the recently rediscovered video from 1968 where Oil City residents got to document their favorite parts of the city. The movie, “View of Oil City,” was filmed on three 35 millimeter film reels and was put into DVD format by the Oil City Heritage Society earlier this year.

Using this theme for the parade encourages people to explore what they love best about today’s Oil City, just like residents did in 1968, festival coordinators said.

Saturday also features the artisan and fine craft festival from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the PennDOT parking lot on Elm Street. As of Wednesday, 31 vendors had signed up to participate.

Sunday’s major events are the car and motorcycle cruise and the annual raft race.

The cruise will take place from noon to 4 p.m. in the PennDOT parking lot on Elm Street. All participants must pay a $5 entry fee, and the first 100 participants will get a dash plaque, T-shirt and goodie bag.

The annual raft race will start at Henry’s Bend and will finish under Veteran’s Bridge near Justus Park. The race will be canceled in the case of bad weather, storms or dangerously high water. The first-place winners of each category will receive a trophy.

The Oil Heritage art shows opened and will be open today through Sunday in the National Transit Building, Annex and Graffiti Gallery. Today it will be open from noon to 6 p.m. On Saturday, the art show will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday’s show will be open from noon to 4 p.m.

This year will mark the 39th anniversary of this festival which is hosted by the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce. This annual festival pays tribute to the rich history of the area thanks to the discovery of petroleum and the subsequent “oil boom.”

According to the Oil Heritage Festival website, “In that oil fueled the Industrial Revolution and the modernization of America’s transportation industry, our region is frequently referred to as ‘the valley that changed the world.'”

The annual festival is held yearly on the fourth weekend of July. This year the chamber is expecting “a couple thousand” visitors, given the forecasted nice weather.

As the chamber approached the final days of planning and preparation, Cassady said, “It’s crunch time. It’s when all the finishing touches are coming together.”

Despite the work yet to be done, Cassady and her team at the chamber are excited for the event.

Cassady, who is from Franklin and has not experienced the festival at this intense level in the past said that she is excited to see all their hard work put into action. She said that people’s reactions at the festival will be the best way to judge the success of all the chamber’s hard work.

More information, schedules, raffles, merchandise and more area available by visiting the Festival Headquarters at the former Singer Sewing Center at 42 Seneca St. in downtown Oil City or the festival website at oilheritagefestival.com.