By: Geoff Rushton
A new weeklong event this summer will celebrate the arts and showcase what communities and businesses along Route 45 in Centre County have to offer for locals and visitors.
Route 45 Getaways will take place July 30 to Aug. 8, with Millheim and Pine Grove Mills serving as the anchor points along the 25-mile stretch of highway that is home to about 50 businesses and organizations.
In between, Route 45 Getaways will have planned activities and self-guided experiences at locations along the way between Millheim and Pine Grove Mills.
“This is a really exciting multi-party effort,” Liz Grove, owner of Pine Grove Hall, said in a news release. “We have a vision for an arts-focused celebration that will also strengthen relationships between local villages, businesses and community organizations.”
The four venues, along with the Centre County Farmland Trust, are sponsoring the effort in partnership with Ferguson Township, Millheim Borough and the Pine Grove Mills Small Area Plan Advisory Committee. The event received a $9,000 tourism grant from the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, as well as funding from Ferguson Township.
“There is so much happening between these two points on the map — wineries, farm tours, bed and breakfasts and farmers markets,” Grove said. “And we want to celebrate that by creating a kind of auto tour that showcases these businesses and brings people to them.”
Participating businesses and organizations will host an art or music event between July 30 and Aug. 8 and will provide gift cards or prizes for giveaways. They will be promoted on route45getaways.com and through social media marketing.
In addition to the sponsoring venues and the self-guided farm tours created by the Farmland Trust, Route 45 (and nearby) features locales such as The Green Drake Gallery, Rhoneymeade, Mount Nittany Vineyard & Winery, Boalsburg and Pine Grove Mills farmers markets, Tait Farm and The Naked Egg Cafe, among others.
A steering committee is helping businesses located on and around Route 45 get involved. Organizations, artists and musicians can also contact the committee through the Route 45 Getaways website contact forms to participate.
“My hope for this event is to show that Millheim is willing to partner and work with other municipalities and groups for the sake of building community,” Millheim Borough Council President Robert Zeigler said. “The arts unify people and bring them together regardless of background, beliefs and ideology. After a year or so of putting ourselves in isolation, such isolation highlighted to me the need to have more events and opportunities to celebrate what many take for granted.”
Ferguson Township Manager David Pribulka said the event is designed to highlight novelty and tradition, allowing residents to discover something new and visitors to come away with an appreciation for the community’s culture.
“We can help educate, inspire and entertain people from all over as they immerse themselves in Centre County’s rich history of sustainable farming, music, locally sourced beer, food, wine and spirits and much more,” he said earlier this summer.
Grove added that the hope is for Route 45 Getaways to continue and grow in the future.
“We have a short window to get the first year off the ground, but we feel we can test the waters and set the stage for what we hope to be an annual event with lots of community involvement,” she said.