STATE COLLEGE — The 14th annual Fall Fest is making its way back downtown Saturday, to bring the community together for autumn activities.
The festival, hosted by the Downtown State College Improvement District, has organized events with downtown businesses that target children, families and Penn State students.
George Arnold, Downtown State College Improvement District executive director, said his goal is to make the downtown community attractive to residents — on and off campus.
“The goal is to remind locals what a great town they have here,” Arnold said.
One local restaurant manager has helped spread the word to Penn State students to bring them downtown to be a part of community events.
“The goal is to start bringing students into town activities. It’s to help bring the community and students together,” said Ben Lippincott, manager and operations partner of Bradley’s Cheesesteaks & Hoagies on South Pugh Street.
One way to do this was to host a cheesesteak-eating contest organized by his restaurant and sponsored by OrderUp.com, with the help of the DID , Lippincott said.
“We’ve done a little advertising on campus, but we think this is something to help bring students out to the Fall Fest,” he said.
So far, 50 people are registered for the competition that will include prizes and giveaways during the event from noon to 3 p.m.
“That’s the main motivator, but we hope to show students that there is an avenue for events for students downtown,” Lippincott said.
Throughout the Fall Fest, other family friendly events will include rides, a climbing wall, a pumpkin-decorating event with 1,000 pumpkins, a fun house and pony rides.
While the 200 block of South Allen Street will be closed off for activities, Arnold said that many events will be taking place at other venues around downtown, including activities hosted by the State College Area School District at Memorial Field and a welcome center with information about the borough at the municipal building.
For the second time this year, sections of downtown streets will be closed off for a plein air painting competition, in which artists will set up in the street to paint on blank canvases, Arnold said. Uncle Eli’s is sponsoring the event.
Plein air painting is an expression for artists to simply paint outside.
“We see this as something unique that gets a good turnout in terms of competitors and the number of people it draws,” Arnold said.
He said he expects 3,000 to 4,000 visitors this year.
“It’s bringing recognition to downtown, where people can have a good time and make memories,” Arnold said.
Next year, Arnold said, he wants to bring a Taste of the Town event that showcases fall food from local restaurants. His goal is to partner with 10 downtown restaurants that can come up with a fall dish for guests.
Admission for the Fall Fest is free; however, some activities have a small participation fee. For more information, visit www.downtownstatecollege.com.
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.