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In the Shenango Valley, the notion of honoring the men and women of the labor force dates back nearly 100 years to 1916.
That’s when the very first Buhl Day was held and that annual tradition continued Monday as a celebration for the entire community. The day began with a huge parade running down East State Street in Hermitage to Buhl Boulevard in Sharon and then into Buhl Farm Park.
Along the way, thousands of people lined the route to see the different bands, fire trucks and other marching units. The event continued with music, food, an art show and a car show.
The celebration stopped during World War II and did not resume again until 1979 when volunteers revived the program first started almost a century ago by Shenango Valley industrialist Frank Buhl and his wife, Julia.
Over the past 34 years, Buhl Day has become a convenient time for people to hold their family reunions or class reunions. But originally, the day was set aside by the Buhls so workers at his steel mill could have a little rest and relaxation with their families.
“And Mr. Buhl gave ‘em the day off. They started in downtown Sharon and they processed in a parade past the Buhl Mansion. The first Buhl Day, he and his wife had been in an accident, so they weren’t about to attend. So they stayed in their house and watched the parade go past their house into Buhl Park,” said Ann U’Halie, Buhl Day historian.
Throughout the afternoon, various acts entertained the crowd at the Performing Arts Center, while non-profit groups provided food and drink to raise funds for local charities.
Denny Smith of Sharon said the day was just another example of the good things happening in Hermitage.
“I like to call it the hidden jewel of the Shenango Valley and of the area. They’ve just redone the casino and Lake Julia, they dredged that out and cleaned it up and it’s ready to go another 100 years,” Smith said.
“It’s a very friendly, small town get-together, where you don’t have a lot of that commercial stuff come in,” said Heather Shirey of Hermitage.
The event draws 10,000 to 15,000 people annually.