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Bellefonte Bringing ‘em in by the Busloads

by and on June 20, 2018 5:00 AM

If you ever need to remember how special Bellefonte is, just take look at the faces of people stepping off the tour buses that stop in the Victorian town on the way to New York a few times a month.

“It is beautiful. It feels like it is not real,” said Theresa Ford, of Anderson, Ind. “It is very different from where I am from.”

Ford stopped in the town with other vacationers on a Diamond Tour Bus that was traveling from Michigan to New York City. The group of tourists got a nice three-hour break during the long trip to stretch their legs and see what Bellefonte had to offer. The others on board seemed just as impressed as Ford.

“It really is beautiful. ... (It) feels almost like a European town because they didn’t tear everything down and everything is well-preserved,” said Audrey Stolicker, of Deckerville, Mich. “I am excited to look around, check out the shops and get something to eat, and I am looking for suggestions.”

Gary Hoover is glad to offer up those suggestions. Hoover is the executive director of the Bellefonte Intervalley Area Chamber of Commerce, and he coordinates the buses arriving into the town, doing his best to meet each group and give a brief history of the town and surrounding area.

“I try to share what makes this area so special — Bellefonte, with its great history, and the rest of the county, too. I tell them about Penn State and the arboretum,” said Hoover. “It is a really great thing for the businesses here. The tourists are on vacation looking to have a good time. They are looking for a nice meal and a souvenir.”

These are things that Bellefonte is glad to share with them. Hoover highlighted all the shops and different dining options for the tourists, and businesses are glad to open their doors to the new customers. 

“It can really bring in some new people, especially when Gary can get there and tell them about the town,” said Chuck Kormanski, owner of Pappy Chuck’s Candy Shoppe. “It is great when it brings in new business to the area and new people to see what Bellefonte has to offer.”

Hoover agrees. He said he can only remember one occasion where someone told him they didn't have a great time after the stop. 

“Everyone else says how much they love it and how beautiful the town is,” said Hoover. “Then those people tell others how great Bellefonte is and it helps put us on the map as a place to stop.”

Hoover said during the spring, summer and fall months they see three to four buses a year, and they started coming even earlier this year. He said the buses give Bellefonte a nice bit of extra business and show that it is growing as a travel destination. 

He said Bellefonte is unique, in that the town has kept its old-time charm, and is not just another stop along Interstate 80 with chain restaurants.

“After all, if you are driving on 80 and need a place to stop, wouldn’t you want to choose Victorian Bellefonte?” he said. 

“I love how quaint it looks,” said Steve Byron, of Columbus, Ohio. “I’m glad we stopped here so I can check it out with my tour group.”

Gary Hoover, executive director of the Bellefonte Intervalley Area Chamber of Commerce, offers up lunch suggestions to a tour bus group that stopped in Bellefonte on June 8.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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