2019 Event Details

2020 info Coming Soon!

Meet the REAL Eliot Ness

Meet the REAL Eliot Ness & his ‘Untouchables’

Eliot Ness Fest has the honor of hosting the first-ever gathering of descendants from the “Untouchables,” who served under Ness’s command in battling organized crime in Chicago. And you can be a part of it!

Gathering for a presentation at 10:30 am Saturday, July 20, at the Coudersport Theatre will be descendants of the agents, including Joe Leeson and Don L. Kooken, who served with Ness in gangland Chicago and literally “wrote the book” on ethics in police service.

It has all come together through the efforts of Scott Sroka, a modern-day federal prosecutor who is the grandson of Agent Leeson. He’ll team with author A. Brad Schwartz, who has recently published, along with Max Allan Collins (“Road to Perdition”) the critically acclaimed new book, “Scarface and the Untouchable” (HarperCollins), to introduce the other descendants and discuss Ness and his team.

Brad will stick around the theater after the program for a book signing session.

Sroka and Schwartz helped uncover personnel files and other records related to all of the agents who served under Ness. Chicago newspapers came to refer to the team as the “Untouchables,” due to their resistance to bribery attempts and their determination to accomplish their mission against heavy odds.

It’s only fitting that the Untouchables’ descendants would gather in Coudersport – the town chosen by Eliot Ness to spend the final years of his life – for their first reunion.

The presenters will display archival photographs on the theater’s big screen and moderate a discussion among the Untouchables descendants, bringing the personal stories of these brave agents to life.

Scott Sroka (left) and A. Brad Schwartz
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Officer and Dog

Don’t miss the Law Tent

You won’t want to miss the prominent Law Tent on the courthouse square, where there will be fascinating programming and exhibits, as well as both vintage and modern law enforcement vehicles and equipment. On both Friday (noon to 8 pm) and Saturday (9 am to 8 pm), July 19-20, you’re encouraged to stop and meet our law enforcement officials from local, state and federal jurisdictions. Agencies will demonstrate tools of the trade and discuss law enforcement and public safety issues.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) returns this year. That important agency still celebrates Eliot Ness’s service as an agent in the 1920s, when he attacked the mob’s stranglehold on Chicago. A special ATF program will be held from 11 to 11:45 am Saturday.

Representatives from the Cleveland Police Historical Society and Museum will bring along artifacts and exhibits from Ness’s career as the city’s Director of Public Safety. Police Chiefs Curt McClain and Brad Buchholz will provide insights on a modern-day law enforcement challenge – the drug addiction epidemic – during a presentation from 10 to 10:45 on Saturday morning. Sweden Township Police Chief Bryan Phelps and his trained police dog, Jay, will be demonstrating investigation and tracking techniques on Saturday from 3 to 3:45 pm. There will be children’s activities at the Law Tent, including a visit by the popular “Chase” from the Paw Patrol. And the Pennsylvania State Police will be bringing a fully equipped, modern helicopter and a Harley-Davidson service motorcycle.

“Chase” from the Paw Patrol
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ATF Award to PCHS

ATF traces its roots to Eliot Ness

We are honored to announce that a federal agency which proudly traces its roots to crimefighter Eliot Ness is coming to this year’s festival as a tribute to the famous lawman. Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) will share insights into how Ness shaped its mission in ways that are still being employed today. ATF representatives will also discuss modern criminal investigation and response equipment and tactics as a featured presenter at the Law Tent, situated at the courthouse square. That program will be presented from 11 am to 11:45 am on Saturday, July 20.

ATF protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms and explosives, acts of terrorism, and other crimes. Agents will take the audience through some of the ATF’s most challenging cases and emphasize how the legacy of Eliot Ness still resonates across the agency.

“These are challenging times in law enforcement, but reflecting back on the days of Eliot Ness -- when enforcing the laws or doing the right thing wasn’t always the popular choice -- might be just what we need,” Special Agent Charlene Hennessy said. “It’s important to uphold the values of Ness: being honest and fair, and having integrity, even when no one is looking.” Charlene Hennessy is shown here presenting a special award to Potter County Historical Society treasurer Bill Franklin, honoring the agency for launching a festival that celebrates Agent Ness’s life and career.

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Ness funeral site

Ness funeral site welcomes visitors during festival

Recognizing its role in local history, the Thomas E. Fickinger Funeral Home (corner of North East and Third streets in Coudersport) will open its doors during the Eliot Ness Fest to allow festival attendees to view the official documents and site of his 1957 memorial service.

Eliot’s widow Elisabeth, son Robert, and close friends Bill Ayers and Joe Phelps greeted friends and associates who came to the funeral home to pay their last respects.

A free laminated obituary of the famed crimefighter, designed as a bookmark, will be given to the first 500 visitors. Doors will be open from noon to 4 on Friday and from 10 to 4 on Saturday. A historical timeline slide show will be playing in both the main chapel and in the old chapel, where the services for Ness where held. Light refreshments will be available free of charge.

Fickinger Funeral Home
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Potter County Historical Society

History museum offers
Ness ‘virtual tour’

It was an uncommonly muggy spring day in Coudersport, Pa., on May 16, 1957, when Eliot Ness drew his last breath at his residence on Third Street, directly behind what is today’s Northwest Bank.

Through interviews with eyewitnesses and an examination of essays and media accounts, the Potter County Historical Society (PCHS) has pieced together a step-by-step guide to the final walk of the 54-year-old businessman as he progressed from his office to his home.

It's available at the PCHS museum, 308 North Main Street, in downtown Coudersport. This guide will assist you in walking in Ness’s footsteps and locating the landmarks at your own pace.

While you are at the museum, you will not want to miss a special event and related attractions. Hosts will present a “Virtual Tour of Eliot Ness Local History” on Friday (11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm); Saturday (11 am, 1 pm); and Sunday (1 pm, 2 pm).

A 15-minute photo display with narration will discuss local Prohibition history and Coudersport sites related to Ness’s years as a local resident. Tour guide David Castano will then answer questions and provide pointers for those who plan to take the self-guided last walk tour.

Eliot Ness
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Potter County Artisan Center

Artisan Center joins
in on Eliot Ness Fest

Potter County Artisan Center is joining in on Eliot Ness Fest. Visitors can pick from a limited supply of souvenirs and mementoes from the inaugural festival – destined to be collectors’ items – and learn more about another Eliot’s wife, Elisabeth, a talented and accomplished artisan.

The center, located at the corner of Main and Third streets, across from the courthouse square, is a juried collective of local fine art and master craftsmanship. Merchandise includes painting and drawing, photographs, pottery, fiber art, jewelry, quilts, wood art, music, literature and license local food products.

Eliot married the former Elisabeth Anderson in early 1946. She had been a very popular artist at the Cowan Pottery Studios in Cleveland. Even today, many of her pieces are displayed in significant art museums around the country, as well as the Cowan Pottery Museum in the Rocky River (Ohio) Public Library.

Soon after the family moved to Coudersport in 1946, Elisabeth soon became involved with the local artist community, often traveling with friends to area displays and theatrical events.

More information about the Potter County Artisan Center is available at 814-274-8165.

Elisabeth Ness Elisabeth Ness’s ‘Spanish Dancers’

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