The State College Downtown Rotary Club knows that nothing warms the soul and cools the body quite like ice cream.
Saturday morning saw State College’s first annual Flavors of Happy Valley ice cream festival in front of the Municipal Building on Allen Street. Rotary club member Jason Browne says that the club designed this event to give kids and families another reason to come out and celebrate downtown State College.
Nicoletta Ventresca, an Italian instructor at Penn State, says the festival is a real treat for her family. They often travel to Italy over summer and miss the many events that happen in State College. She says that her son Giovanni enjoyed the ice cream, adding that they're "trying to experience everything we can this summer."
For some of the younger attendees it was an afternoon of simple joys.
“I really like going out to places with my mommy,” three-year-old State College resident Addisyn Denner said as she munched on Rita’s Italian ice next to her mother, Ann Denner. “And I’m eating lots of ice cream!”
Denner says that she and Addisyn don’t always get the chance to come out to the downtown. Saturday’s ice cream festival gave the two ladies a chance to “continue the celebration from 4th Fest last night” and enjoy a beautiful day together.
In addition to Rita’s Italian ice, booths from Coldstone Creamery, Yuengling ice cream and Bonfatto’s “spicecream” were set up for the enjoyment of ice cream lovers of all ages.
David Letterman, owner of the Bellefonte-based Bonfatto’s restaurant, was eager to participate in the event to promote Bonfatto's uniquely spicy fruit-flavored ice cream. Though he says the mixes of fruity hot sauces and vanilla ice cream “aren’t for everybody,” the younger festival visitors seemed to enjoy stepping out of their comfort zone.
Maddison Mazza, 10, of State College, says she was a little hesitant at first. Though she normally doesn’t like spicy foods, she says “it really paid off” to try Bonfatto's mix of sweet and heat. Her sister Sera, 13, says she enjoys both the ice cream and the atmosphere at the event.
“It just feels so lively here when things like this are happening in town,” she says.
In addition to the ice cream, children could have their faces painted, make balloon animals and explore the wonders of science with help from the Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania.
Discovery Space science educator Elizabeth Ceres says that the Discovery Space is always trying to reach out in the community to get children interested in science and technology. At the Discovery Space booth children explored the gravitational force of different metals and made their own ice cream with the help of liquid nitrogen, which froze bites of brownie on contact for a refreshing and educational treat.
The rotary club has plans to continue the event in the future, hopefully growing larger each year.
That's okay with Kathleen Cole, who came to the event with her grandchildren.
“It encourages families to come out together and make people aware of the community,” Cole says. “I’ve heard of people who say they’ve lived next to their neighbor for 15 years and never met. That’s a lot harder with things like this going on.”
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