Get in touch with an 'Untouchable'

Photo submitted – Coudersport will celebrate the legacy of Eliot Ness with speakers, activities, performances and a classic car show at the inaugural Eliot Ness Fest happening July 20-22 in downtown Coudersport.
Yelena Kisler
Staff Writer

He was a legend, an “Untouchable,” the man who took down Capone – and he spent the last years of his life in nearby Coudersport.
Eliot Ness Fest, happening over the weekend of July 20-22 in Coudersport, aims to remind area residents and fans of Ness and the Untouchables about his legacy and his little-known last years in the area.
Sponsored by the Potter County Historical Society, the weekend "celebrates the life of the famous crimefighter who spent his final years as a businessman in that community," according to a press release.
Bill Pekarski, one of the chairmen of the Ness Fest Committee, said he and Paul Heimel, who wrote the book "Eliot Ness: The Real Story" nearly 20 years ago, had talked about doing a local festival to celebrate Ness many times over the years. With the recent repaving of Main Street in Coudersport, the idea was once again brought up at a meeting last year, and this time, it actually took hold.
The event promises to be "a weekend that mixes Roaring ‘20s fun and lively street theater with fascinating history programs, a salute to law enforcement, a vintage car show (1921-32) that’s unprecedented in the region, and many other events spread out over three days," according to the release.
"Each day on Friday and Saturday, if you start at the theater, we're gonna have a kind of meet-and-greet, a 'making the most out of your festival' sort of thing, to give people information about where things are happening and what's going on," said Pekarski.
Festival-goers will be able to pick up one of 5,000 newspapers specially printed for the event that contain information about the festival and Eliot Ness, a schedule of events and photos. The newspapers can serve as both a collector's item and guide for the weekend Pekarski said.
Saturday will offer attendees a chance to see some very rare classic cars while participating in a variety of activities, from pop-up street theater performances, to activities for children and, of course, many exhibits about Eliot Ness.
"As of right now, we've got 36 or 37 classic cars for the car show on Saturday. When I say 'classic' I'm talking 1919 to 1931," said Pekarski. "These are vintage cars and we're gonna have a parade with them as well on Saturday."
He said that since Main Street will be closed off for three blocks on Saturday, the cars will line the street all day.
"Between that and the sidewalk sale and the street vendors that we're going to have situated, it's gonna be like, instead of being in downtown Coudersport, you're gonna be stepping back in time to 1929 old world Chicago," he said.