On a week when the country celebrated the launch of its revolution against the British, a festival in Washington County will commemorate the first major rebellion against the American government.
The 12th annual Whiskey Rebellion Festival — an event that explores the revolt that occurred in Western Pennsylvania against the newly formed United States government over a tax it placed on whiskey in 1791 — will take place Friday and Saturday in downtown Washington, Pa. This year’s festival will feature more vendors and entertainment than ever before.
“Everything that we’re doing this year seems to be bigger,” said Tracie Liberatore, executive director of the Bradford House Association, who helps organize the festival.
The festival kicks off on Friday evening with an opening ceremony and a performance from the Washington Symphony Orchestra.
The main event on Friday is the Whiskey and Spirits Walk from 6 to 9 p.m. Participants will receive a commemorative glass and can try whiskey and other libations from a dozen different distilleries, including Jim Beam, Red Pump, B&B and Country Hammer Moonshine.
Tickets for the walk are $50 and are available at the festival, but Liberatore suggests purchasing them through Eventbrite.
Saturday is the main day of the event, starting with a parade on Main Street.
Street theater performances will take place in six acts throughout the day as actors reenact key moments in the Whiskey Rebellion, culminating in a tarring and feathering at 5 p.m.
Sixteen local history groups will have tables at the festival. Three museums in downtown Washington — the Bradford House Museum, Whiskey Rebellion Education Visitor Center and the Meeting House — all will be open on Saturday. Courthouse tours will also take place in the afternoon.
Musical acts headlined by Moe Taters and the Gravy Train will perform on the main stage beginning in the afternoon and through the evening. Food and drinks will be available all day at various food trucks and the Blue Eagle Tavern.
The “Lil’ Rebel Area” will have 18th-century games and entertainment for the kids, including Bob the Juggler and a storyteller.
Besides the entertainment, Liberatore said the festival provides a unique educational opportunity to learn about a significant historical event that occurred more than 200 years ago in the exact place it happened.
“The major portion of the Whiskey Rebellion happened directly where we’re having the festival,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you know the history or not.”
A full schedule of the festival can be found here.