Top Irish dancers experience West Reading’s Fall Fest


Skipping, sidestepping and high kicking, pupils from the Sabo School of Irish Dance showed off their skills in the traditional art form on Saturday at West Reading’s 16th Fall Fest.

The event kicked off the fall season with live music, art demonstrations, craft and retail vendors, and an array of food and beverages.

“We’re halfway through St. Patrick’s Day,” said Jackie Sabo-Metzinger, founder and owner of the Orwigsburg School of Dance in Schuylkill County. “That’s why we are here today.”

A newcomer to the festival, the dance school welcomed a dozen young students, who performed jigs, reels and hornpipes, solo, in pairs and in groups.

Julia Rhody, 8, left, from Orwigsburg, and Megan Touchinsky, 9, from Schuylkill Haven, perform Irish dancing as part of the Sabo School of Irish Dance, Orwigsburg, at the West Reading Fall Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The percussive click of the dancers’ hard shoes to the beat of lively fiddle and pipe recordings drew Melisa Douglas and her family to the makeshift Penn Avenue stage.

Melisa Douglas of Mohnton enjoys Irish dancing performances at the West Reading Fall Festival on Saturday September 17, 2022. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Melisa Douglas from Mohnton enjoys Irish dancing performances at the West Reading Fall Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Douglas, 29, attended the event with his parents, Veronica and Fatai Odebisi, and his siblings, Jubriel, 21, and Fatima, 24.

“We just got here and stopped when we heard the music and saw the dancers,” Douglas said.

The Mohnton family loves live music and follows the summer lineup of outdoor music festivals in the area, Douglas said.

With nearly two dozen concerts on four stages, Fall Fest provided the family and thousands of other attendees with plenty of entertainment options.

Festival-goers packed the 400 to 700 blocks of Penn Street, which were closed to vehicular traffic for the event.

Less than a block east of the Sabo Stage on Penn Avenue, glass artists from the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts demonstrated hot glass carving.

Working with a portable kiln, Scott Krenitsky, director of hot glass studio GoggleWorks, repeatedly heated the glass to a temperature of around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and shaped the molten material into a goblet shape.

Scott Krenitsky, Hot Glass Studio Manager at GoggleWorks, creates a drinking glass at the West Reading Fall Festival on Saturday, September 17, 2022. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Scott Krenitsky, Hot Glass Studio Manager at GoggleWorks, creates a drinking glass at the West Reading Fall Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

“That’s a lot of work for a drink,” one viewer joked.

At the other end of the festival strip, the Rotary Club of West Reading-Wyomissing, in partnership with Bartlett Tree Experts, promoted the club’s environmental focus by donating black gum and bald cypress seedlings.

The club saw the festival as an opportunity to help increase tree planting and stewardship, Gail A. Landis, the club’s public image director, said in a press release.

“The urban tree population depends on large-scale participation to thrive and grow,” she said.

The club also offered people the opportunity to pose for photos in front of a mural painted by high school student Wilson, a member of Rotary’s Interact student club.

Baby goats entertain visitors to the Brow Boutique exhibit at the West Reading Fall Festival on Saturday, September 17, 2022. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Baby goats entertain visitors to the Brow Boutique display during the West Reading Autumn Festival on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Other activities included a baby goat petting area, courtesy of The Brow Boutique of Wyomissing.

Owner Liz Langumas said she borrowed the goats from a friend and brought them to entertain children attending the festival.

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