Summer celebrations return to Central Pennsylvania

By Marisa Ramiccio

 

The lazy days of summer are here, but why stay indoors when there is so much to explore in Centre County? There is no shortage of outdoor celebrations, festivals and competitions that offer something for the whole family. Whether you’re an art lover, a camping guru or a die-hard foodie, there’s a summer event for you. Check out the list below and save the dates for these annual summer celebrations:

Central PA Theatre and Dance Fest
June 21-23 | Downtown State College

After a successful inaugural event, the Central PA Theatre and Dance Fest returns with new performances and activities celebrating all genres of theater and dance. Performances range from classical and musical to burlesque and circus-themed. This year’s performers include the State High Thespians, Happy Valley Improv, Tempest Producers, Allied Motion Dance, Black Cat Belly Dance and the Nittany Ballet. Literature lovers can catch poetry and script readings, and even participate in storytelling workshops, while children aged 12 and under can participate in puppet shows, sing-a-longs and games at the Schlow Library.

For those who really want to immerse themselves in the performing arts, the festival also offers three-day intensives on belly dance, burlesque, improv and cabaret, as well as more than 50 classes and workshops on acting, dancing, puppetry, makeup and more. The intensives cost $179 each, and a $35 Class Pass will give you access to the classes and workshops. To see the full schedule of events, visit centralpatheatre.com/lineup/.

WingFest at Tussey Mountain
June 27-Aug. 15 | Tussey Mountain

Get your tastebuds ready for Pennsylvania’s biggest food competition of the summer! The 19th annual WingFest kicks off at Tussey Mountain on June 27 and runs every Thursday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., through Aug. 15. Cast your vote for the best local wing-maker each night, and then watch the top six winners face off at The Finals. This year’s competitors include Boulevard BBQ, Primanti Brothers, The Bel-Vue Inn, Shy Bear Brewing, Smitty’s and last year’s reigning champs, The Wilderness Lodge.

If you’re craving something other than wings, there are plenty of other vendors on hand, including Rita’s Italian Ice, Rosie’s Pierogies and Carl’s Crazy Corn. WingFest is also known for its live entertainment and has been voted one of the best places to see live music by State College magazine. Performers like Hybrid Ice, My Hero Zero and Velveeta will grace the stage, and Best Friend’s Girl and Cousin Neddie will headline ’80s Night (dust off your legwarmers and neon crop tops!).

Admission to WingFest is $5; kids aged 12 and under get in for free. Keep in mind that your ticket does allow for re-entry into Tussey Mountain’s other recreational activities, such as mini golf and the batting cages, so you can experience everything Tussey Mountain has to offer.

Central PA 4th Fest
July 4 | Penn State Campus


The fireworks display at Central PA 4th Fest are among the best in the nation. Credit: Chuck Carroll/PA Fest Facebook

Celebrate Independence Day all day long at Central PA 4th Fest, which brings more than 12 hours of entertainment to the Penn State campus every year. Start the morning off with the heart-pumping Firecracker 4K and 4M races, and then relax with the Independence Day Parade in the afternoon. Check out the nation’s top BMX cyclists at the Dialed Action BMX Stunt Show, the toughest area skaters at the State College Area Roller Derby and local woodcarvers at the Appalachian Arts Studio exhibit.

Cap off the day with the best part of any Fourth of July Celebration — fireworks! The 4th Fest fireworks are one of the biggest, and ranked among the best, in the nation. The dazzling display kicks off at 9:15 p.m. If you want the best view, purchase a VIP Viewing Pass for $25. This will grant you access to a special reserved section on the east side of Porter Road that incorporates ground effects and a high quality sound system into the show.

Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
July 10-14 | Downtown State College and Penn State Campus


The Grange Fair draws crowds of people for the food, special events and grandstand concert performances. Credit: Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair Facebook

Downtown State College and the Penn State campus will once again transform into an art lover’s paradise for the 53rd annual Arts Fest. The sidewalk sale features more than 300 artisan vendors selling sculptures, paintings, ceramics, pottery, clothing, jewelry and more. After the sale, stroll down South Allen Street to see the festival’s signature Banner Exhibition and Competition, and take a walk through Sidney Friedman Park to see sculptor Greg Glenn transform a 25-ton mound of sand into a work of art.

The Street Painting Festival, a long-standing fan favorite, will move to its new location on Foster Avenue at South Allen Street. Other highlights of this year’s festival include the Festive Spirits Party, the Children and Youth Sidewalk Sale and Bookfest.

Penn State alumni can also look forward to reuniting at the Penn State Alumni Association Arts Fest Alumni Weekend as well as the Penn State Art of Discovery Booth. Pricing varies for individual activities, but the purchase of a $10 Arts Fest button will grant general admission to select indoor performances. For more pricing information and the full schedule, visit arts-festival.com.

Blueberries and Bluegrass Festival
July 19 | Mifflinburg Community Park

Grab a lawn chair, pick up a fork and dive into some tasty blueberry treats at the Blueberries and Bluegrass Festival, hosted by the Mifflinburg Heritage and Revitalization Association. Feast on blueberry pie, blueberry coffee cakes, blueberry cheesecake swirl ice cream, and the festival’s famous whoopee pies. If you plan on bringing home some treats, you can pre-order whole pies, cheesecakes and whoopee pies by visiting mifflinburgpa.com/blueberries-bluegrass or calling 570-966-1666. Admission to the festival is free. 

Centre County Grange Fair
Aug. 16-24 | Centre County Grange Fairgrounds


The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts features art from more than 300 vendors

It wouldn’t be summer without the Grange Fair! This Centre County tradition is back for its 144th year of camping, competitions and camaraderie. The fair always offers something for everyone, from tractor pulls and livestock shows to celebrity chef demonstrations and musical performances. This year’s special events include the Grange Fair Parade, the Mount Nittany Heart Walk Celebration, a motor sports and car show and a two-hour scavenger hunt in the Rec Building.

No day at the fair would be complete without a grandstand concert performance, and this year’s lineup promises to be stellar. Headliners include Merle Haggard’s sons, Ben and Noel, country queen Lorrie Morgan, Christian band Sidewalk Prophets and Fleetwood Mac tribute band Tusk.

With so much to see and experience, you won’t want to go home — and you don’t have to! The Grange Fair offers an RV camping area for just $30 per night. Admission to the fair costs $20 for a weekly pass or $7 per day. Children 11 and under get in for free. But be sure to check the Grange Fair’s daily schedule for deals and discounts — on Customer Appreciation Day, parking is free for all guests, and on Collegiate Day, admission is half price for college students with a valid college ID.

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