Downtown Bellefonte Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 16823
By Serge Bielanko
It's Friday in the 'Fonte time in Bellefonte again and this month is all about Mardi Gras. The folks at Downtown Bellefonte Inc. (DBI) have been planning this one for a while. Mardi Gras, as you well know, seems to resonate with the vibe and aura of New Orleans, and that's understandable since that city celebrates the event with real dedication. However, did you know that Mardi Gras is actually not a New Orleans thing by origin at all?
The truth is: Mardi Gras is a heck of a lot older and more worldly than you probably thought. It's a Christian celebration, also commonly referred to as Carnival, which was once commonly celebrated across a longer period of the year (post-Christmas until just before Lent). Some believe it is even traced back as far as100 BC when the ancient Roman pagans celebrated Saturnalia in honor of the coming spring season and it's supposed link to fertility.
Since then, Mardi Gras (which means 'Fat Tuesday' in French) has gone through a series of cultural transformations that allow it to be celebrated in a variety of ways all over the world. Here in America, we mostly know it to be that one specific day in late winter when The Big Easy goes bananas and the rest of the country has extended Happy Hours.
So now it's Bellefonte's turn to celebrate Mardi Gras in her own special way.
This Friday, February 28th, DBI and a whole slew of local businesses are making sure that Centre County gets its own Mardi Gras fix with an evening of special events, excellent food and drink, and a bunch of shopping specials.
"Lots of businesses are offering specials or promotions at their stores," reports Gina Thompson, Main Street Manager of Downtown Bellefonte Inc. "In addition, Downtown Bellefonte Inc. is hosting an Open House at the new Studio 1795 where people can stop by for snacks and talk with community members, including myself. Of course, shoppers at any participating businesses can expect to be showered with Mardi Gras beads!"
These Friday in the 'Fontes have proven to be such a cool way for people in the area to enjoy downtown Bellefonte and all it has to offer. But have they been successful? I asked Gina.
"People love Friday in the 'Fonte!," she says. "I think visitors and shoppers have come to look forward to the event and make it a point to shop specifically during the time. This month our theme is Mardi Gras and we have fifteen businesses participating! Each month we get more and more businesses participating because I think they see the positive effects and growth of the event over the past two years."
Well, how does it all work? I mean, how does everyone figure out that they're going to celebrate Mardi Gras collectively and make a big unified Friday night splash once a month?
"Before the start of the year, business owners and DBI got together to decide on different themes for each month," Thompson explains. "Then the businesses are tasked with coming up with creative ways to showcase their business that compliment that theme. DBI is here to support them of course, but we really want businesses to make it their own. People that visit downtown Bellefonte on the last Friday of each month can expect to have a unique shopping experience at many participating businesses."
And if a small business owner in town wants to get involved in all this...what should they do?
"Each month downtown business owners are asked to fill out a form with their intent to participate and what specials or features they might showcase for the event," says Thompson. "This information is sent out via our downtown business owners mailing list. If businesses aren't on it and would like to be added, they can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org."
So what exactly will be happening for February Friday in the 'Fonte. A lot. Check it out...
Big Spring Spirits, 4 to 10 p.m.
Warm up inside Bellefonte’s only distillery with handmade cocktails and delicious food prepared by chef-in-residence, Meghan McCracken. Live music every Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Bellefonte Art Museum, noon to 7 p.m.
Support our local artist community by visiting BAM! Stop in and check out art exhibits and buy hand-crafted items from local artists.
The Cakery, 1 to 8 p.m.
By a Thread Boutique Pop Up will be returning to The Cakery. Stop by for delicious sweet treats and try on some unique clothing items. Customers wearing a Mardi Gras mask will receive a special discount!
Co2 Boutique, 10 a.m to 7 p.m.
Here you’ll find ladies accessories, purses, fashion jewelry, gifts and more! Pick out a Mardi Gras mask and win a special discount on your entire purchase!
Jabebo Studio Store, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
You’ll find the signature Jabebo Earrings, plus locally made bath and beauty products, hand-made and fair-trade items. Free gift for every customer, plus free parking for your entire stay in downtown Bellefonte.
3Twenty9 Design, 5 to 8 p.m.
Chat about graphic design while sipping delicious brews. Race Street Brew Works will be serving up their signature beers at 3Twenty9 during Friday in the ‘Fonte.
Good Intent Cider, 3 to 10 p.m.
This Friday in the ‘Fonte, Good Intent will feature a small-batch cider release!
Bonfatto’s Italian Market & Corner Cafe, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Stop in to your favorite Italian cafe for free assorted Italian cookies celebrate the end of Carevale! Don’t know what that is? Stop in to find out!
Our Fair Lady Bed and Breakfast, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Mention Friday in the Fonte and have your Mardis Gras Beads and receive 10% off your stay!
Confer’s Jewelers, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Stop by Confer’s for the most gorgeous selection of jewelry. Pick out a Mardi Gras mask and win a special discount on your entire purchase!
Studio 1795, 5 to 7 p.m.
DBI is partnering up with Bellefonte’s newest coworking and event space for a special Friday in the ‘Fonte Open House. Stop by to see the space, have some snacks and connect with other community members.
Verizon Wireless Made Simple, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Just for Friday in the ‘Fonte, take 20% off accessories in the store.
Plumb’s Cards and Gifts, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Plumb’s offers beautiful home decor, gifts, cards and stationary. And don’t forget about their old-fashioned soda fountain with hard ice cream. Get 25% off your regularly priced gift shop purchase during Friday in the ‘Fonte.
State Burger Co., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Design your own craft burger, score some fresh-cut fries, or order a malted milkshake. King Cake Milkshakes are $4 just for Friday in the ‘Fonte.
Helen Foxx and Co., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Helen Foxx carries a wide selection of ladies boutique clothing and accessories, for all sizes and budgets. Clearance items normally 50% off will be 70% for Friday in the ‘Fonte. In addition, all items in the Estate Room are 50% off.
Governors’ Pub, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Specials served all day long! Homemade dessert and full bar service.
Talleyrand Tavern, 5 p.m. to midnight
Stop in for food and drink specials and stay for the Mardi Gras party! Music from 7 to 9 p.m. Be sure to try the gumbo and wash it down with a Hurricane Punch
So there you have it. Mard Gras Bellefonte is coming your way this Friday, February 28th. Put your beads on and get out there.
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