STATE COLLEGE — Brooklynn Donahue wasn’t sure what she was getting herself into.
The 8-year-old stuck a toothpick into a chunk of brownie, and then dipped it into melted vanilla ice cream. She was then told her dessert sample would be put into liquid nitrogen.
Her eyes widened when she heard “liquid nitrogen,” but she found that the concoction made for a tasty Saturday afternoon treat that only froze the ice cream to her brownie bite.
The experiment was put on by Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania as a way to educate kids at the inaugural Ice Cream Festival sponsored by the Rotary Club of State College/Downtown, said Elizabeth Ceres, volunteer/outreach coordinator and science educator.
Discovery Space representatives also showed about 70 children who visited their tent how to identify flavors of snacks using their noses, instead of just their taste buds.
“It’s about learning while having fun and targeting what the ice cream fest is about,” Ceres said.
The fest was created this year as a way to keep people in State College after the Central PA 4th Fest on Friday, said Kat Snowe, Rotary president.
Snowe said the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau approached the Rotary Club in September to sponsor the event.
South Allen Street from East Foster to East Beaver avenues was closed most of the day as vendors such as Bonfatto’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Rita’s, Yuengling and Vale Wood Farms handed out samples of ice cream.
The event attracted about 550 visitors and raised about $2,000, Snowe said.
The funds raised will go toward a $14,000 total donation to one of the organizations funded by the Rotary Club, Snowe said. The chosen organization will be announced Thursday.
“We got a surprisingly good turnout,” Snowe said. “So much that we needed to get more tickets for people.”
Among the activities was an ice cream-eating contest for children ages 12 and younger.
Rotary member Brodie Dalton said the kid with the fastest time to eat three scoops walked away with bragging rights and a small prize.
The fastest time was just less than two minutes, he said.
“Everything we did here was centered around children and families,” Dalton said. “We wanted it to be a fun way to get the community out here.”
Bonfatto’s owner David Letterman said that when he got the call to be a part of the event, he jumped on the opportunity.
“It’s getting us out there and helping others,” he said. “I think everyone’s happy with the outcome.”
He served the restaurant’s Spice Cream, which mixes ice cream with its homemade hot sauces.
Most people, like Jodi Kowelski, of State College, said it’s like nothing she’s ever tasted.
“There is definitely a unique and interesting zing to it,” she said. “I think all the ice creams have been good and refreshing.”
The Rotary Club hopes to sponsor the event again next year, but with more vendors.
“We needed at least five (vendors) to make it what we thought would be successful, and we got that,” Dalton said. “We’ll meet again and see where next year’s event takes us.”