Centre County, PA & Happy Valley fund local tourism projects

In the historic Rowland Theatre on Thursday, the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau and the Centre County commissioners announced the recipients of the 2022-23 Tourism Grants. A total of $636,900 was awarded to 60 projects throughout the county.

Fritz Smith, HVAB president and CEO, said they received a record number of applicants for the grant program this year. More than $2.97 million was requested from 75 applications; in this round of funding, 60 projects were funded. Six applications were tabled for consideration in the fall.

“We have 14 new applications this year and that’s always been one of the goals is to stimulate new activity,” Smith said.

In a release, Smith said events and the program itself are beginning to rebound.

“Traditional events are back, new ones are returning, and activity is picking up, as the grant program itself continues to rebound. That is certainly reflected in this year’s requests for funding. While this undoubtedly put some pressure on the Tourism Grant Review Committee in making its funding decisions, it is wonderful to see not only a return to normal, but growth in our tourism product,” Smith said.

Fritz Smith, president and CEO of Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, speaks Thursday at the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg about the 2022-23 tourism grants. Halie Kines

Commissioner Steve Dershem said the thing all the applicants had in common was their passion.

“Everybody here is here not only for what they’re passionate about and things that really light them up, they’re passionate about our area, too,” Dershem said.

Three of the successful applicants spoke about their projects, including the Roland Curtin Foundation, the Nittany Mountain Bike Association and the Rowland Theatre.

The Roland Curtin Foundation received $19,500 for way-finding and interpretive signage at Eagle Iron Works and Curtin Village. Eagle Iron Works was in operation for 112 years and was the last surviving charcoal-fueled iron furnace in Pennsylvania. It “has the potential to become a top tourist attraction in Centre County,” Smith said.

Sue Hannegan, president of the foundation’s board, said in March 2019, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission announced they were no longer interested in owning the building. It was advertised to the public to see if there was any interest, and the only entity that responded was the Roland Curtin Foundation.

Sue Hannegan, president of Roland Curtin Foundation board, speaks Thursday at the Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg about the 2022-23 tourism grants. Halie Kines

“Before us are a number of challenges and a number of opportunities to make this a feature destination for Centre County and for central Pennsylvania. Many of you know open air museums, such as Williamsburg, … we have the potential to do that. But it can only be done with the support of many people,” Hannegan said.

The Rowland Theatre received a $25,000 grant to help fund the replacement of the roof over the auditorium at the theater. Rebecca Inlow, Rowland Theatre board member, said the roof was replaced several years ago but it began leaking again last year.

“We would put buckets on seats to catch the raindrops. We attempted patching and we had the roofing company come in to look at it. The news wasn’t good. The rubber roof had already outlived its 30 year lifespan and it was detaching, and we were told that it had to be replaced. The cost estimate for the project to replace this roof is about $78,000,” Inlow said.

Replacing the roof wasn’t on the list of repairs they had intended to do that year. But knowing the extent of the damage that was caused by a leaky roof in the late 1970s, the board did not want history to repeat itself. The tourism grant, Inlow said, will make the roof replacement much more doable.

“The roofing company has us on their schedule for roof replacement in September. So no more buckets on seats to catch raindrops, no more singing in the rain inside Rowland Theatre,” she said.

The Nittany Mountain Bike Association was awarded $16,000 for its second phase of the Harvest Fields Community Trails project. It includes the development of a skills park. They plan to break ground on it next month and expect it to be open by early fall.

Josh Stapleton, NMBA board member, said there’s about four miles of beginning focused mountain biking trails there currently. But it’s also a venue for people to enjoy the outdoors.

“There’s disc golf, there’s a beautiful pond, Harris Township’s gonna have a park there soon. It’s becoming like this amazing little slice of heaven, you know, right at the foot of Rothrock, in terms of all kinds of … cross generational outdoor activities. It really is amazing.”

Other grant recipients include:

  • Spring Township, $6,000 for engineering costs and creation of a master site plan for baseball fields, basketball courts, walking paths and a playground

  • Centre County Library and Historical Museum, $10,000 for physical improvements to the Miles Potter-Humes House, where historical research is performed

  • Bellefonte Art Museum, $9,000 to market the museum and its exhibits

  • David Boal Tavern, $2,500 to restore the historic tavern, and with a goal of ultimately combining visits to the Boalsburg Heritage Museum

  • Discovery Space, $14,000 to market events and general programming

  • Happy Valley Women’s Cycling, $15,000 to market the Seasons of Rothrock race series, formerly the Rothrock Grit Gravel Grinder

  • State College Borough, $2,500 to help market events at the MLK Jr. Plaza

  • State College Borough, $7,000 to help replace the tables in MLK Jr. Plaza, will also increase seating capacity

  • The Makery, $2,500 to market facility and offerings

  • PA Chamber Orchestra, $3,000 in support of marketing PCO performances

  • Snow Shoe Rails to Trails Association, $7,000 for printing and distribution of a trail map

  • Bellefonte Cemetery Association, $4,000 to being a five-year plan to develop digital maps, brochures, audio tours and guided tours at the historical Union Cemetery

  • Mountaintop Swimming Pool Association, $12,000 to help refurbish the baby pool, main pool and construct a concessions shed

  • Wildlife for Everyone Foundation, $5,500 to help support the Great Outdoor Picnic

  • Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, $35,000 to help market the event

  • Moshannon Valley EMS, $12,000 to market the Philipsburg Heritage Days festival

  • The Crooked House, $10,000 to help finish the Crooked House public art project in Milesburg

  • Nittany Mountain Bike Association, $16,000 to hep complete phase 2 of Harvest Fields Community Trails

  • Nittany Performing Arts Center, $10,000 to support the architectural design of the building

  • Snow Shoe Park Corporation, $6,000 for metal door replacement on the grounds of the Snow Shoe Carnival

  • Howard Volunteer Fire Company, $3,000 to market the annual Pumpkin’ Chunkin’ festival

  • Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion Museum, $15,000 to help complete the restoration of the Boal Barn Theatre

  • Happy Valley Comic Convention, LLC, $5,000 to market a new comic con event at the Nittany Valley Sports Centre in February 2023

  • Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest, $20,000 to help market the event

  • The Arboretum at Penn State, $7,500 to help promote the facility, programs and events, including the Pumpkin Festival

  • Roland Curtin Foundation, $19,500 for Tourist Oriented Directional signage on Route 150, way-finding signs on local roads and interpretive signage at Eagle Iron Works and Curtin Village

  • First Night State College, $5,000 to market the New Year’s Eve event

  • Downtown Bellefonte Inc., $20,000 to help market events, such as Bellefonte Under the Lights, the Winter Market and Friday in the Fonte

  • Penn State Center for the Performing Arts, $7,000 for a website enhancement/analytics project, and $10,000 to help market the center

  • Route 45 Getaways, $10,000 to help promote the Route 45 Corridor event, July 29-Aug. 7

  • Palmer Museum of Art, $10,000 to help market the museum as it celebrates its Golden Anniversary

  • Krislund, $7,000 to help market the facility, which serves as a summer camp, year-round retreat with conference facilities

  • Millheim Borough, $10,000 to support Millheim Walkfest of Art and Music, June 24-26

  • Centre Region Parks and Recreation, $5,000 for educational displays at the Donald Hamer Visitor Center at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center

  • Rowland Theatre, $25,000 to replace the auditorium roof at the historic theater

  • People’s Choice Festival, $10,000 to market the event, July 14-17 at Grange Park

  • Penn’s Woods Music Fest, $2,800 to market four classical music concerts and two jazz concerts

  • Centre County Grange Fair and Encampment, $25,000 to market Grange Fair

  • Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation, $3,000 to support education programs at Black Moshannon State Park

  • Centre Model Railroaders, $5,000 to support the creation of a public, interactive teaching model railroad layout at Discovery Space

  • Rooted Farmstead, $3,000 for visitor enhancements to the cut flower farm, including outdoor lounge seating and a natural windbreak and hedgerow

  • Central PA Tasting Trail, $5,000 to market the trail, printing of passports and brochures, and $10,000 to market four events: Arts Fest, Summer Craft Beverage Expo, a fall event in Boalsburg and a scavenger hunt

  • Nittany Valley Symphony, $3,600 to market performances

  • Historic Bellefonte Inc., $40,000 to help support signature events

  • Centre County Historical Society, $11,000 to reprint the Centre County Explorers passports and driving maps

  • Tempest Productions, $12,000 to help support Sundays in the Park with Tempest

  • Way Fruit Farm, $7,000 to help market Art in the Orchard, July 14-16

  • State Theatre, $30,000 to help market events and redevelop the attic as event space

  • Penn State Centre Stage, to help promote 2022-23 season

  • CentreBike, $2,000 to renew the license with Ride with GPS and add bike routes to the app

  • Philipsburg Revitalization Corporation, $7,000 for markets and branding Philipsburg as “The Wilderness City”

  • MTB50 Inc., $6,000 to promote Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon

  • Potter Township, $6,000 for improvements to the baseball fields off of Route 322

  • Centre Film Festival, $18,000 to support the Fourth Annual Centre Film Festival

  • Lucky Dog Management, $20,000 to promote the Happy Valley Music Festival

  • Bryce Jordan Center, $7,500 to provide incentives to event promoters and $10,000 for marketing

Halie Kines reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Penns Valley and graduated from Penn State.

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