Winter Hibernation is Summer-in-the-Making

By |Published On: March 19, 2024|

We’ve officially made it. Happy first day of spring!

You know what’s really cool about this time of year? From the outside, things are still pretty quiet. Buttoned up. (And gloved or scarfed up at times, quite literally.) We’re poking our heads out of our blanket piles and couch corners, peeking out the screen door to breathe in the warmer-than-usual air when it passes through. We’re mentally preparing to fully emerge from winter hibernation mode and little bits of spring have been popping up everywhere, reminding us of what’s coming!

But while we’ve all been tucked away for the winter, juggling big bulky coats and tiny windows of daylight and a moderate amount of cabin fever, Summertime State College has been coming together behind the scenes. It’s under the radar and often out of sight, but everywhere I turn lately, I talk to someone who’s already been working for months to facilitate the summer in Happy Valley that we all know and love.

For example, I ran into Jen Shuey at the Ken Vandermark experimental jazz show at 3 Dots the other week. (It was a part of the Secret Planet series that we’ve all been talking about nonstop, partially because the shows are so great and partially because of how awesome it is that this kind of music experience exists in State College!) Anyway, do you ever think about how Arts Fest comes to be? It’s one of the most popular events of the summer around here, welcoming droves of out of town visitors, and Jen is one of the people who works to bring it all to life every year.

Behind the scenes right now in Fest world, the artists who have been juried into this coming July’s event are just about to be notified of their acceptance. The performances that’ll happen on the three main stages have been booked, and applications are open for both the 2024 banner design competition and ever-popular Children & Youth Day Sidewalk Sale. Four months from now, when I’m wandering up and down the aisles of booths, I’ll have a deeper appreciation for this event, knowing how much time and love from our neighbors goes into making it all happen. (Side note, I also learned in my convo with Jen that Bellefonte photographer Dick Brown has participated in every single festival since its inception in 1967! How amazing is that?!)

State Burger Co.’s dessert “burger and fries” from last year’s Happy Valley Restaurant Week!
Photo: Matt Fern

Another favorite summertime event, Happy Valley Restaurant Week, is also kicking into gear! Every June, we celebrate our area’s ever-expanding food scene and right now, the Restaurant Week team – of which I am thrilled to be a part for the third year! – is dreaming up ideas to make this year’s event the best yet. (And if you’re like us, you also can’t wait to see what State Burger Co. is going to create this year. After last year’s cheeseburger and fries made entirely of dessert items? They’ve become the restaurant to beat in the creativity arena in my humble opinion! Save the date for this year’s event and come eat with us, June 14-23!)

We could also talk about Rhoneymeade Fest – bands are being booked! Or the new Palmer Museum of Art opening – first exhibitions are being planned! Or the Ironman – volunteers and participants are signing up! Summer camp sign ups are going strong, the Rediscover State College team is designing our next line of merch for a summertime launch, and the Central PA Native Plant Sale is just around the corner and will get us ready to dive headfirst into gardening season!

It’s fun to think about all that’s going to happen later this year as a result of State College’s winter hibernation and the beehive of community energy that’s buzzing under the surface to keep our small town vibrant.

Laura Mustio made her way to State College via Pittsburgh in 2015. Her writing celebrates our area’s hidden gems, treasured locals, and not-to-be-missed experiences.

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