Changing of the Guard

Hello! It's been quite some time since the Westmoreland Heritage blog has been updated, so let's give it a good ole' shot in the arm and get it up and running again!

A selfie of me as Marketing Coordinator for Westmoreland Heritage.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Lauren Buches. I lived in Westmoreland County my entire childhood—from my first few weeks of birth to when I graduated from Greater Latrobe Senior High School in 2006 and moved on to the University of Pittsburgh, where I studied history and journalism.

I loved my childhood here in Westmoreland County, and I remember doing a few local events and visiting a few local sites here and there. There was that time in fifth grade when my school visited Fort Ligonier—which I LOVED because I was a history nerd even back then. I also have vague memories of visiting The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the Apple Hill Playhouse, and a handful of performances at The Palace Theatre.  

And then there were the “craft” festivals. Every year my mom dragged me and my three sisters to the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival and Fort Ligonier Days as kids to look at the arts and crafts—which, by the way, is extremely boring if you’re nine years old, and your mom is looking at the 15th grapevine wreath vendor that day, and they don't sell anything of interest to kids in their booth, and all you want to do is get some funnel cake and sit down because your feet hurt because you've been marched around to grapevine wreath booths for three hours straight. Thank goodness for Chldren's Areas at those festivals.

But Bushy Run Battlefield? It took a high school history club to get me out there in 2006. And the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art – Ligonier Valley? Pshaw, I never even heard of it until a few years ago, when I passed it while looking for parking during an outing to Fort Ligonier Days with my mom. Now THAT's a museum I should have been exploring, instead of looking at more grapevine wreaths(of which my mom already has more than enough).

And I had discovered that, despite having been to Fort Ligonier Days, my dad had never actually been inside Fort Ligonier. I finally dragged him and my little sister out there when the exhibit The World Ablaze: An Introduction to the Seven Years' War came out, using a Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau BOGO admission coupon.

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These Westmoreland County treasures were so foreign to myself and my family simply because we are like almost every other family out there— we let other stuff get in the way of exploring what was around us. My dad worked full time and wanted to rest on the weekends. My mom was busy chauffeuring us to various after-school activities and sporting events. My dad likes history, but my mom doesn’t—and, from his POV, why not spend money on something everyone will enjoy, rather than something only two of the six participants are guaranteed to enjoy? My mom appreciates art, but buying tickets for two adults and four children to look at art is hard to do when the grocery bill is so high every week, and the kids need new shoes, and that sixth grade camp fundraiser is coming up. So our excursions were few and far between.

But it is this type of thinking that Westmoreland Heritage tries to combat. There are plenty of affordable attractions and events to do within easy driving distance--places like the Geyer Performing Arts Center and the Mount Pleasant Glass Museum are much cheaper and easier to visit than the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium or Carnegie Science Center.

Although I have lived in Westmoreland County for two-thirds of my life, although I was museum facilitator at Bushy Run Battlefield—what Westmoreland County has to offer is sometimes almost as new to me as it is to tourists to this area. There was no Latrobe Art Center when I was in high school—that was always the building for Volkwein’s Music. And Saint Vincent College never had that crazy, twisty-turny way to get into the entrance. And what the heck is the Casino Theatre, or the Baltzer Meyer Historical Society?

So join me on this blog as I, an ex-pat of Westmoreland County, unveil its many offerings—sometimes as an old friend, sometimes as a stranger, but always as the one-man show that is Westmoreland Heritage

 

Next blog post: Lauren celebrates her 29th birthday at the Compass Inn Museum and Ligonier Valley Historical Society’s “History with a Purpose: Secrets of the Tavern” on Saturday, July 30 from 6-10 p.m.!

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