My First Book Talk!

WCHS Talk 7-18-13

Photo by Jennifer Sopko

Thank you to everyone who came out last night to hear my first book talk at the Westmoreland County Historical Society! It was great to meet those of you I haven’t met before and chat with some of my friends and family.  Thank you to the Westmoreland County Historical Society for hosting last night’s event, which was a really fun ice cream social.  I really appreciate everyone’s support of Ligonier Valley Vignettes.

WCHS Talk 7-18-13

Mmmmm ice cream sundae! Fun fact: Joseph A. Greubel, grandfather of Valley Dairy’s “Ice Cream Joe” and great-grandfather of the current owner Joe E. Greubel, was the first to commercially manufacture ice cream in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jennifer Sopko)

It’s been about ten years since I’ve spoken in public and I was nervous about giving my first official talk about Ligonier Valley Vignettes but I think it went very well.  I wanted to introduce myself to those in the community who weren’t familiar with my work, summarize the history covered in my historical stories and explain how the book came about. Three of the vignettes in my book were originally published in the Westmoreland History Magazine, so I wanted to highlight those.  I also wanted to talk about some of the great experiences I had conducting research for my book by visiting historic sites and talking to some great local history experts and members of the community. I’m relieved to have made it through the experience to be rewarded with a delicious ice cream sundae afterwards, complete with ice cream from Valley Dairy, whose family’s history making ice cream stretches back into the late 19th century.

If you missed my talk, I’ll be giving another talk at the Ligonier Valley Library in late October.  I will be at the Summer in Ligonier Arts and Crafts Show this Saturday, July 20 from 12:00-2:00pm in the Ligonier Sweet Shop if you are out and about.  Check my events page for more details.

Thank you all again for coming out in the heat wave! I hope to see you all again soon! Thank you to everyone who send me good thoughts. And thank you to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for running a great piece on me and the ice cream social in yesterday’s edition.   Here are just a few pictures from last night’s event:


On the Road with Ligonier Valley Vignettes: The Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival

It was a beautiful (and hot day) along the lower lake at Twin Lakes Park. (Photo by Jennifer Sopko)

I hope everyone had a nice long Fourth of July weekend!

I had a pretty busy weekend between holiday festivities, social outings and participating in the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival last Friday.  I had already planned to help out at the Westmoreland Heritage booth that evening, but decided at the last minute to try and sell some copies of Ligonier Valley Vignettes.  I figured it would be a good learning experience and also allow me to practice interacting with people as a seller.

Here I am beating the heat on the Heritage Trail! (Photo by David Zajdel)

Here I am beating the heat on the Heritage Trail! (Photo by David Zajdel)

All in all the WAAHF was a really great experience and I’m glad I took a chance and participated in the festival.  Dave came along to help man the booth I had from 11:00am until 3:00pm and I was grateful for his help greeting people, filling our cooler with cold drinks, and buying us some delicious kettle corn.  Thankfully my booth was set up on the Heritage Trail, which was a shady, tree-lined path off of the main vendor area that wrapped around the lower lake at Twin Lakes Park in Greensburg, PA.  It was really sunny and hot that day so I was glad to be in the shade.  I think the heat chased quite a few people to the trail!

I sold a few books and got the chance to meet and talk to some folks who stopped by to check out my book, including a gentleman from Ligonier who told us about performing in a band as a ninth grader during the town’s bicentennial celebration in 1958.  He remembered President Eisenhower’s visit to the town for the celebration!  I also met Jessica Kadie-Barclay, the managing director of West Overton Village and Museums in Scottsdale, PA, who was hunkered down in a neighboring booth.  We bonded over our mutual hate of creepy-crawly forest-dwelling bugs! Bleck! Dave and I decided we really want  to check out the village and museums sometime this summer, especially the distillery!

A view of all the wonderful free materials available from Westmoreland Heritage. (Photo by Jennifer Sopko)

A view of all the wonderful free materials available from Westmoreland Heritage. (Photo by Jennifer Sopko)

After we cleaned up the booth for the evening’s author to take over, I walked around the festival for a little while before heading over to join some other folks at the Westmoreland Heritage booth located at the beginning of the Heritage Trail.  Westmoreland Heritage works in conjunction with the Westmoreland County Historical Society and local cultural and historical organizations to promote heritage tourism throughout the county.  I was glad to help them out.

These nice flowers from my sister worked perfectly in this mug! (Photo by Jennifer Sopko)

These nice flowers from my sister worked perfectly in this mug! (Photo by Jennifer Sopko)

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my booth to pick up a copy of Ligonier Valley Vignettes, check out my booth or chat! Thank you to my sister, Michele, for helping me get organized for the festival.  Thank you to Dave for braving the heat and helping me set up and peddle my book during the whole block of time. Thank you to the rain for holding off.  Thank you to WAAHF Dxecutive Director Adam Shaffer, for giving me the opportunity to come on board at the last minute. I am looking forward to participating again next year, which will be the festival’s 40th anniversary.

Here are a few more pictures from the 2013 Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival:

“Ligonier Valley Vignettes” is on the road in July!

Hello all! I have some exciting news: I have two upcoming author events scheduled for July! It’s going to be a busy month!

Westmoreland Arts and Heritage FestivalStop by the annual Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival on Friday, July 5, when I’ll be selling and signing copies of my book, Ligonier Valley Vignettes: Tales from the Laurel Highlands from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  The festival will be held at Twin Lakes Park near Greensburg, PA and features a variety of performing arts, handmade crafts, cultural heritage activities and ethnic food.  Later on that day, I will be helping out at the Westmoreland Heritage booth from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., providing information on all of the wonderful historical and cultural sites throughout Westmoreland County. Additional festival details, directions to Twin Lakes and information about recommended shuttle transportation can be found on their website.  Also, Pittsburgh Dad is going to be there that day from 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. – I hope he stops over!

Westmoreland County Historical SocietyIf you can’t make it to the festival, I will also signing my book at the Westmoreland County Historical Society Pollins Library during an Ice Cream Social on Thursday, July 18 from 7:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. The WCHS will also have copies of my book for sale.  Please call 724-532-1935 x210 for more information. Please come out and support this wonderful organization that promotes the education and preservation of Westmoreland County history through its enormous research library, archival and archaeological collections, the historic site at Hanna’s Town and various educational programs and materials, among the Society’s many other endeavors.  The WCHS is where my local history research started in 2004 with my article on Idlewild Park, so we go way back. Plus, YAY for ice cream!

I hope to see you all soon! Thank you to both the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival and the WCHS for their support! Keep updated on the places Ligonier Valley Vignettes will be this summer and fall by checking out my Author Events page!