Come to the Columbus Ball on October 5th and stay for the Boalsburg Heritage Birthday Festival on October 6th!
One year, a classical guitarist came from Spain just to play at this annual event. Another year, a couple came all the way from France to attend. Guests regularly attend from up and down the east coast and from as far away as California.
But this isn’t some well-publicized Penn State event that is attracting so much international attention. Instead, it’s the Boalsburg Heritage Festival, a weekend including a fancy ball and a free festival celebrating many generations of American heritage in Boalsburg as well as a unique local connection with Christopher Columbus. And yet many local people are unaware of it.
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Steven Spielberg’s new film “Lincoln” will have special meaning to a local man whose ancestor will be portrayed in the blockbuster film opening locally on Friday.
Francis Preston Blair, portrayed in the film by actor Hal Holbrook (right), founded the new Republican Party and was an important advisor to Lincoln during the negotiations to end slavery.
Blair’s local descendant is Christopher Gist Lee, CEO of Boal Mansion Museum in Boalsburg. The Museum displays oil portraits of Blair and his wife Eliza Gist in the dining room. The same portraits are hung in the Blair House in Washington DC, guest house for heads of state visiting the U.S. president. Lee's grandfather was born in the Blair House.
The Boal Mansion Museum collection includes the original signatures of four US Presidents associated with the Boal family, the Admiral’s Desk of Christopher Columbus, a lock of hair of Napoleon and two pieces of the True Cross of Jesus. The Wall Street Journal published an article about the Museum on October 6 with a photograph of the two pieces of the True Cross.