Talleyrand Park Bellefonte, PA 16823
By Serge Bielanko
When the sun comes up over Talleyrand Park this Saturday morning, the birds will start chirping, same as any other spring day. Over by the High Street bridge, a fat rainbow trout will sip a morning caddis off the surface of a ripple on the stream. Ducks? You know it, friend. Like clockwork, right? One will start quacking at another one and then a third one will shout back, and the next thing you know those mad mallards will be chasing each other around in a circle, hungry with duck lust....which....well...it's kind of impressive, right?
But the thing is, all these robins and fish and ducks, they don't realize it, but this Saturday is NOT like all the other Saturdays that greet Talleyrand the other 364 days of the year. Because this Saturday is Big Spring Festival Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the natural wonder that is this glorious fortune of cold clean water living right beneath our feet. Listen, many towns around the world find many reasons to highlight all kinds of stuff about themselves. Some claim to be the birthplace of the Whoopie Pie. Some take the fact that a famous person once spent a night there and they exploit the heck out of it in order to throw a shindig.
Heck, some towns even hold annual celebrations to hold a hostage up in the air and hoot and holler at his shadow!!! (You know who you are, P-town).
Here in Bellefonte, though, we don't have to invent a reason to get together in the middle of May, when the days are growing warmer and the sun is shining and the world is lush and green again. Because we have this Big Spring. And it's very real, very wonderful.
I wanted to call this the 36th annual Big Spring Fest, which is a nice number. It's a respectable age, 36 is. And to pull off a big party in the park for that many years in a row would be a feat in any town anywhere. But then Sally Houser- who, as the President of Historic Bellefonte Inc (HBI) knows a thing or three about the history of things around here- set me straight.
"Found out through research that it has actually been around longer than 36 years," she told me recently. "The Big Spring Festival is actually the first event, and the kick-off event of the year, for all the events that happen in Bellefonte. It has been around so long because of the support of the community and a special event that celebrates the rich water supply and beautiful Talleyrand Park in the springtime of each year. About 5 years ago we changed the event date to the Saturday before Mother's Day and added activities just for that purpose. When it was started is was much bigger and just about every service organization was involved, now it has become a smaller event and give the local community something to look forward to after a long winter."
That explains a lot. I find it interesting that this day used to be even bigger than it is today. I wonder what those fests of yesteryear were like, you know? Talleyrand must have been packed with folks coming from all over. I wonder if I would have liked that better? Maybe not. I can roll with a decent crowd, but when it starts to get too crowded, I'm out. So I'm guessing that HBI has done the right thing by all of us here.
So come out, people. Come stand in the May sunshine, eat some local food, tell your kids how clean this water is and why that is so important.
The Knights of Columbus will be serving their infamous beer batter fish, fries hushpuppies, and cold slaw. Scott's Roasting will be there with their own legendary sandwiches. And of course Snyder's Fries. You need me to explain to you about how addicting Snyder's Fries are? Okay, good. I didn't think so.
As always, there will be a ton of things for kids to do. How else could we unofficially kick off the more humane season after a long cold winter?.
Adam Schwartz Puppets will be putting on two puppet shows at 11am and noon right there in the park.
Face Painting by Kait will be creating little tigers and lions and hopefully a toddler or two that look like a native brook trout.
There will be a Photo Booth where families can get together for a shot if they can get all the kids to sit still for 10 seconds.
And between 2-4pm Dan and Galla will be playing a two-hour concert where kids and grandparents alike can dance to "...the popular standards of ‘50s & ’60s, country, Russian, ragtime, polkas, cowboy songs, Irish, calypso, pop, patriotic, and Big Band," according to the duo's website. That's pretty much 90% of the kinds of music that exist, folks. So you're bound to like it. Bring a lawn chair, clap along.
In addition, Historic Bellefonte, Inc., Bellefonte Garden Club, Centre County Library, and Kiwanis, BASD Key Club will all be on hand to let the community know what they'll be up to this summer. It's a fine time to make connections with some of these long-running Bellefonte institutions.
Oh, and I almost forgot, but one of the coolest/sweetest things about the way this Big Spring Festival is thrown anymore is the fact that it always happens on Mother's Day weekend. Mother Earth and your mom. Or Mother Earth and the Mother of your bambinos. How could there be a better way to celebrate life and love, you know? I can't think of one.
And neither can Sally Houser.
"The HBI Executive Board, all the volunteers and organizations that participate make this happen," she says. "And the community always comes together. I think the festival in the Spring is a great reminder of what a "gem" we have in Talleyrand Park. I have seem many public parks and many of them can't hold a candle to our park. The Waterfront development has added to the beauty of the area and a reminder that we have some of the best trout fishing in the world."
Plus: french fries.
Happy Spring. Happy Mother's Day.
The Big Spring Festival May 11, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Talleyrand Park, Bellefonte Enjoy a Celebration of Water and our Mothers!
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