2018-08-04 / Front Page

Ness Festival will return


Two prominent guest presenters at the Eliot Ness Fest in Coudersport visited the East Third Street home where Ness lived with his wife and son in 1956-57. Author A. Brad Schwartz (left) and federal prosecutor Scott Sroka, grandson of Ness agent Joe Leeson, were effusive in their praise of the festival organizers and plan to return. Two prominent guest presenters at the Eliot Ness Fest in Coudersport visited the East Third Street home where Ness lived with his wife and son in 1956-57. Author A. Brad Schwartz (left) and federal prosecutor Scott Sroka, grandson of Ness agent Joe Leeson, were effusive in their praise of the festival organizers and plan to return. Organizers of last month’s Eliot Ness Fest in Coudersport were set to convene at press time to evaluate the inaugural event and start to nail down details for the next one.

They have plenty to talk about. Despite organizational gaps that were scarcely noticeable, everyone involved with the festival has declared it a tremendous success.

Crowd estimates that varied widely immediately after the three-day affair finally settled at a consensus figure of about 3,000.

Committee members now have to assess how big of a crowd the community can handle. As reported in last week’s Endeavor News, some downtown businesses reported their best weekend sales ever, and a handful sold out of their entire inventory.

As Hotel Crittenden owner Hans Nielson put it, “It was a fantastic weekend – one for the record books!”

Committee members believe that some of the events are keepers -- the vintage car show with models from 1921 to 1931; raucous street theater scenes; engaging speakers and films at the local theater, and many others. “Each of us was pretty much taking stock of what the people thought were the most popular draws,” said committee member Paul Heimel.

“Now it’s time to decide which events need to be considered part of the Eliot Ness Fest identity so that there is some consistency, and which ones to put aside, at least for 2019.”

During the festival finale, a captivating program titled “Meet the Real Eliot Ness” at the Coudersport Theatre, Heimel discussed one new event that is already gaining momentum for next year – a re-enactment of Al Capone’s trial in the Potter County courthouse. There will be multiple opportunities for volun­teers.

Efforts will also be made to engage closely with local and area busi­nesses and civic groups to partner with the com­mittee, which will be starting early in planning next year’s festival in co­operation with its spon­sor, the Potter County Historical Society.

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