Berlin Relives Its Rebellious Past

By Lepley, Sandra | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 23, 2007 | Go to article overview

Berlin Relives Its Rebellious Past


Lepley, Sandra, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


When frontiersmen in the Berlin area of southern Somerset County spoke out in 1794 against a whiskey tax imposed by the newly formed government of the United States, they probably never imagined their descendants would celebrate their fortitude.

But descendants of those outspoken, new Americans have been getting together for the past 14 years to celebrate a pivotal period in history.

This year, the Whiskey Rebellion celebration on Saturday and Sept. 30 not only commemorates the frontiersmen's rebellion, but also the 225th anniversary of the Berlin Fife and Drum Corps. The musical group began in 1782 and now may be the oldest continuous fife and drum corps the United States.

"It's all about community and a sense of pride and patriotism," said Carolyn Sarver, chairwoman of the Whiskey Rebellion committee. "Not only are we celebrating this rich heritage of government, but we're also incorporating the local tradition of the fife and drum corps."

The festival dates to 1994, when townspeople got together to celebrate the bicentennial of the Whiskey Rebellion -- a nice precursor for the county bicentennial in 1995. Berlin residents decided the fun should continue year after year, and they have held the festival ever since on the last weekend in September.

The Berlin Fife and Drum Corps dates to 1782, when founder George Johnson organized a group of fifers and drummers, mostly military veterans and local musicians. …

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