A series of upcoming walking tours of downtown Bellefonte will give participants a “taste” of the borough’s history.
The three Taste of History tours that take place Oct. 17 and 18 are a joint initiative between Downtown Bellefonte Inc. and Local Historia Walking Tours. The tours are a new, social distancing-friendly fundraising alternative to some of the former’s annual events.
“As the result of COVID-19, Downtown Bellefonte Inc. had to cancel its signature events for the year: Bellefonte Under the Lights and the Outdoor Adventure Expo,” says Downtown Bellefonte Inc. board president Ellen Matis. “While these aren't our only fundraising efforts, they do account for a large portion of our organization's revenue annually. In addition, a lot of our resources this year went into getting information to our downtown business owners about the pandemic, getting resources to them and more.
Local Historia’s Matt Maris has participated in DBI’s signature events in the past, providing tours during events such as the Bellefonte Under the Lights Winter Market.
“When events had to be cancelled, we were looking for ways to bring traffic into our downtown in safe ways and in small groups,” Matis said. “The tours really lend themselves to that. They're capped at 15 people, they're outdoors and they allow for social distancing while exploring and learning about our beautiful downtown. The Tastes of History Tours were an idea by Matt that bring people into town while also supporting some local businesses — the craft beverage producers that are participating.”
During the walking tours, which take place at 12:30 and 4 p.m. on Oct. 17 and at 2 p.m. on Oct. 18, participants will explore highlights along South Potter Street, the train station, the Governors Memorial, the Bush House site and the AME Church on Halfmoon Hill. The tours begin and end at Good Intent Cider, where cider samples are provided to tour participants.
“I'm so excited to be able to offer a variety of walking tours like the upcoming Taste of History tour,” says Maris, who started Local Historia about a year ago. “Local Historia is a passion for local history, community and preservation. Through walking tours and other events, Local Historia is all about engaging people with local history through authentic and fun experiences. Learning local history can really help people connect with their community, so that's what it's all about.
“Bellefonte has so much incredible history; this tour is really special because it features parts of Bellefonte that are off the beaten path, like the Cidery property and the AME Church. I don't want to give too much away, but this part of town is going to get some much-deserved attention!”
While the tour is designed with adults in mind, children are welcome to attend with their parents. Local Historia additionally offers a range of tours and events for all ages, including annual ghost tours during October. More details regarding upcoming tours can be found on Local Historia’s Facebook page.
“All of my tours are a labor of love, I put a lot of research hours into each of them but I enjoy the research almost as much as the walking tours. I have a passion for learning and sharing what I know. History should be shared and connected with,” says Maris.
Tickets for the tours are $20 per person, with $8 from each ticket benefiting Downtown Bellefonte Inc.
“These funds could be used to help any of our major initiatives, like the permanent installation of the Bellefonte Under the Lights bistro lights along the waterfront, beautification efforts, our Facade Grant Program, support for business development and resources and more,” says Matis.
“I attended one of the last Taste of History tours with Big Spring Spirits in September and it was such a great experience,” she adds. "These tours are a fun and interactive way to learn about the community you live in (or the community you're visiting), and see how Bellefonte played a role in our entire region's history. And it goes without saying that it's an excellent way to support two small, local businesses directly during a time when businesses need more support than ever.”
Learn more about the tours and reserve your tickets at downtownbellefonteinc.com.