RiverFest at John Wright Restaurant mixes music, food and Civil War history
If you go
What: RiverFest, a festival to commemorate the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge burning, featuring music by Corty Byron Band
When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 28
Where: John Wright Restaurant, 234 N. Front St., Wrightsville
On Sunday, rock music fans, foodies and history buffs will have one reason to come together: RiverFest.
The 12th annual festival at John Wright Restaurant will kick off at 5:30 with music by Corty Byron Band and conclude at dusk with a fire-lighting ceremony to commemorate the burning of the Columbia–Wrightsville Bridge on June 28, 1863.
Rivertownes PA organized the event. Rivertownes' website said the non-profit's mission is "promoting, preserving and enhancing the culture, heritage and related commerce and recreational activities in the Pennsylvania Susquehanna river towns of Columbia, Marietta and Wrightsville and surrounding areas."
David Haneman, the president of Rivertownes, said all proceeds from the event's $2 cover charge help to fund future projects.
Haneman said that along with John Wright Restaurant, Susquehanna Blue Smoke and other vendors will sell food.
John Wright Restaurant co-owner Jim Switzenberg said the restaurant will also sell beer and other drinks.
For those new to the history behind the commemoration, the original Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge was located where the Veterans Memorial Bridge now exists, prominently visible from the John Wright Restaurant. Stone pilings from the bridge still stand in the Susquehanna, and those are where the commemorative fires are lit.
Author and Civil War historian Scott Mingus said the Union's decision to torch the bridge had a huge impact on the course of the Civil War.
As Confederate Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon's brigade attacked Wrightsville, Mingus wrote in an email, the state militia and displaced patients from the U.S. Army Hospital on Penn Common in York retreated across the bridge into Columbia. Under orders from a Union commander, four Philadelphia cavalry soldiers and a handful of Columbia residents burned the bridge.
"Confederate Gen. Early was visibly upset at the failure of Gordon's men to seize the bridge before the militia torched it, realizing that this act had negated his plan to gallop into Harrisburg," Mingus said. "Early dejectedly rode his horse back to York that evening, leaving Gordon's men to try to put out a series of fires, which had erupted in Wrightsville from the flaming embers carried from the burning bridge by a strong windstorm."
Also check out
Never Forgotten BBQ is serious about meats and helping veterans
Photos: See craft beer and food pairings from History Untapped
Cigars become new lifestyle trend of Central PA