It is not enough to say that the Tionesta Indian Festival is a community event. Rather, in the way that a large weather front rests over town and permeates the lives of all its inhabitants, this week long festival inundates the community. The Indian Festival surreptitiously sweeps through this tiny village; enveloping the ball fields, the local beach, and downtown streets. It includes churches, the courthouse, the library and historical houses. It is full-fledged, it is nonstop, and it is impossible to avoid.
Activities run all week, but come in stages. The first weekend for instance boasts a melee of contests and tournaments. A 5K race, a fishing derby, and a 3 on 3 Basketball name but a few of the many events. Capping the festival next weekend is a Saturday night fireworks show and a Sunday car cruise. A huge parade through town on Saturday is to many the hallmark of this community event and is not to be missed. Rummage sales and flea markets take post at local churches over the weekend of the festival. But the biggest draw of the Indian Festival is unquestionably the carnival. Amongst the rides are fun activities like a dunk-tank and the ever popular Fireman’s dime-bingo. The games and the rides run from Wednesday to Saturday.
Indian Festival is inundated with community-sponsored food. Nearly every church runs a food booth or sponsors a lunch of some sort. Local organizations of all variety work with determined fervor to bring an eclectic and scrumptious mix of sandwiches, chicken wings and chicken barbeques, desserts, and other home-grown delicacies. Perhaps no better illustration of this festivals reverence for food exists than the cookie barn held at the History House. Live music is played at the grand stage everyday of the festival – mostly in the evenings. Visitors can enjoy some of the best regional acts as they frolic in the festival grounds.
It should be noted that there is not much in the way of Native American celebration. Scarcely any homage to the festival’s theme is made, save a Friday night Indian Costume Contest and perhaps a singular musical demonstration. This does nothing to detract the fun that the fair brings and that which the community enjoys. But for those who are expecting a historical or cultural festival rooting in Native American tradition, take note: An Indian heritage festival this is not.
Admission is free and parking is limited.