Volant Mills celebrates 200th Anniversary
Each Saturday in September features different events
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Saturday, September 15, 2012 18:09
VOLANT, Pa.-- Two hundred years ago, Napoleon marched across Europe into Russia. Off the coast of Nova Scotia, the USS Constitution battled the British Navy. In a tiny Western Pennsylvania community where the town of Volant now stands, the locals just put up a mill to grind their grain.
The Volant Mills celebrates its bicentennial this year. With this important date comes many festivities. Each weekend has a different theme to attract tourists to the little town.
The mill and the surrounding town have weathered many storms, including the current economic downturn. Currently the mill building serves as a store and central hub of the town. Karen Rockenstein sits on the board of directors for the Volant Community Development Corporation. She says Volant stayed vibrant over the years because it offers something different to people.
“We've tried to have the types of shops and the type of merchandise that you can't find other places.”
Those offerings include local seasonal produce, homemade canned foods, handmade crafts, Amish goods, and more. The celebration runs throughout September. The remaining weekend themes include The 50s and 60s, rural life, and the Witches' Ball.
“We are trying to have activities that are interactive, so that people can see what was going on, but also participate,” Rockenstein said.
The mills have undergone serious renovations in the last decade. Rockenstien and the rest of the board brought in specialists to repair the structure. The addition of insulation and a heating system helps keep it open in the winter time. They plan to one day grind grain again in the mills as a demonstration to the public.
“We are trying to restore our grinding equipment, and hopefully produce a little buckwheat flour,” Rockenstein told us.
200 years later, Napoleon's empire has fallen, and the USS Constitution now serves as a floating museum.
As for the people of Volant, they are once again building a mill to grind their grain.
See our whole interview with Rockenstein below, where we discuss the mill history, construction, repair, and more.