BELLEFONTE – The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau (HVAB), in conjunction with the Center County Board of Commissioners, recently announced the recipients of the 2022-23 Tourism Grants at a press conference at the historic Rowland Theater in Philipsburg.
HVAB received a record 75 applications for a total funding request of over $2.97 million.
In the main funding round, 60 projects from 56 applicants received $636,900 in grants, with six applications submitted for consideration this fall. These requests are for events taking place in the spring of 2023. The total grant pool is $670,000.
“Traditional events are back, new ones are coming back, and activity is picking up, as the grant program itself continues to rebound. This is certainly reflected in this year’s funding requests,” said Fritz Smith, President and CEO of HVAB. “While this has undoubtedly put additional pressure on the Tourism Grants Review Committee in making its funding decisions, it is wonderful to see not just a return to normal, but growth in our tourism product. .”
Center County Commissioner Mark Higgins acknowledged that Center County’s nonprofits and tourism industry have fallen on hard times.
“These tourism grants help local nonprofits and other organizations improve our tourism offerings, which in turn improves the quality of life in Center County,” he said.
Higgins congratulated the tourism grant recipients and thanked the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau board and staff for their hard work in the process.
Smith said the program has seen 15 first-time applicants and a handful of first-time applicants in a few years. New projects that have received funding include plans to hold a Comic Con event at Happy Valley in February 2023; supporting Art in the Orchard at Way Fruit Farm during a strong weekend of events at Happy Valley; and restoration/preservation of historic county assets.
“The Tourism Grants Program has a long history of assisting event organizers, performing arts groups and other entities for the benefit of visitors and those who live here,” said commissioner Steve Dershem. “Now more than ever, the program is providing the funding increases needed to help these groups overcome the challenges of the past few years and face a brighter future.
Nine projects that did not receive grants are either under consideration for funding from other sources, including the Happy Valley Sports and Entertainment Commission, or did not meet the grant program’s intent for the tourism.
Three successful applicants spoke about their plans at the press conference.
A $25,000 grant will help fund the replacement of the auditorium roof at the Rowland Theater in Philipsburg. In addition to being a historic county gem, the theater hosts the Center Film Festival, now in its fourth year.
“We always have a list of construction projects ranked in order of importance, and when we finish the one at the top of the list, the next one jumps,” said Rowland Theater Board member Rebecca Inlow, who noted that replacing a leaky roof over our auditorium, which will cost around $78,000, was not on the list.
“We received the bad news late last year about the need for the replacement and had to put this project at the top of the list,” she says. “As we move through our second century, we are so grateful to HVAB for helping us ensure that we can complete this much needed work and continue our story.”
The Nittany Mountain Bike Association received $16,000 for Phase 2 of the Harvest Fields Community Trails project, which includes the development of a skill park.
“The Nittany Mountain Biking Association, in partnership with dozens of local businesses, organizations and individuals, is thrilled to begin construction of the Harvest Fields Community Trails Bike Park,” said NMBA board member Josh Stapleton. “Once complete, the HFCT Bike Park will be a unique destination in the region offering progressive and fun experiences for cyclists of all skill levels. “
Stapleton said the HFCT is an outdoor community space that brings people together to enjoy the natural beauty of central Pennsylvania, improve fitness and general well-being, and provide unique mountain biking experiences.
“NMBA is grateful to be a recipient of a 2022 HVAB Tourism Grant,” he said. “The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau has been a key supporter of the HFCT project, and the completion of the bike park will provide another compelling reason to visit Happy Valley!”
The Roland Curtin Foundation received $19,500 for tourist signs (TODs) on Route 150, wayfinding signs on local roads, and interpretive signs on the grounds of Eagle Iron Works and Curtin Village .
Sue Hannegan, board chair of the Roland Curtin Foundation, said the Foundation is “very grateful” grant funding for preservation and interpretation efforts at the historic site near Milesburg.
“Over the coming year, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will divest of this historic site, creating both challenges and opportunities for the Foundation as it strives to return ownership to its property” , she says. “This scholarship helps tell, preserve and display history. It supports our aims to keep the site open to the public and to enhance the cultural opportunities and economic vitality of the Commonwealth’s last and most comprehensive charcoal-iron smelting operation for the benefit of all people.
Smith applauded the work of the TRGC’s Independent Review Committee, which submits grant funding recommendations to the HVAB Board of Directors for approval.
“It’s an arduous task” he said. “We appreciate the care taken in reviewing applications each year and the collective desire of HVAB, the commissioners and the committee to fund as many worthy projects as possible.”
Since 2003-2004, the Tourism Grants Program has awarded nearly $6.6 million to projects, events and initiatives that develop and enhance Happy Valley’s tourism product.
Center County Commissioner Chairman Michael Pipe said the impactful partnership between Center County Commissioners and the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau continues to benefit the many groups that shape our vibrant tourism economy.
“This year, hundreds of thousands of dollars will be invested to encourage and inspire people to
visit and enjoy Center County,” he said.
Recipients of tourism subsidies 2022-23 (first round, recipients are listed in the coverage area of the Express):
— Spring Township, $6,000 for engineering costs and the creation of a master plan for the implementation of baseball diamonds, basketball courts, walking paths and a playground
— Center County Library & Historical Museum, $10,000 for physical improvements to the Miles Potter-Humes House, where historical research is conducted
— Bellefonte Art Museum, $9,000 to market the museum and its exhibitions
— Bellefonte Art Museum, $15,000 to help fund an interactive educational component of the Underground Railroad exhibit
— Snow Shoe Rails to Trails Association, $7,000 to print and distribute a trail map
— Bellefonte Cemetery Association, $4,000 to launch a five-year plan to develop digital maps, brochures, audio tours and guided tours at the historic Union Cemetery
— Mountaintop Swimming Pool Association, $12,000 to help refurbish the wading pool, main pool and build a concession shed
— Wildlife for Everyone Foundation, $5,500 to help support the large outdoor picnic
– Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, $35,000 to help market the event
– The Crooked House, $10,000 to help complete the Crooked House public art project in Milesburg
— Snow Shoe Park Corporation, $6,000 to replace a metal gate on the grounds of the Snow Shoe Carnival
— Howard Volunteer Fire Company, $3,000 to market the annual Punkin’ Chunkin’ Festival
– Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest, $20,000 to help market the event
— Downtown Bellefonte Inc., $20,000 to help market flagship events including Bellefonte Under the Lights, Winter Market and Friday at La Fonte
— Route 45 Getaways, $10,000 to help promote the Route 45 Corridor event, July 29-August 7
– Krislund, $7,000 to help market the facility, which serves as a summer camp, year-round retreat with conference rooms
— Millheim Borough, $10,000 to support the Millheim Walkfest of Art & Music, June 24-26
— People’s Choice Festival, $10,000 to market the event, July 14-17 at Grange Park
— Center County Grange Fair and Encampment, $25,000 to market the Grange Fair
– Central PA Tasting Trail, $5,000 to help market the trail, including passport printing and
– Central PA Tasting Trail, $10,000 to help market four events: Arts Fest, Summer Craft Beverage Expo, a fall event in Boalsburg and a scavenger hunt
— Historic Bellefonte Inc., $40,000 to help support flagship events
– Center County Historical Society, $11,000 to reprint Center County Explorers passports and road maps