SpikesFest provides family fun on rainy day

Trinity Semack, 4, meets Ike the Spike at the 10th annual SpikesFest on Sunday at the Penn State Multi-Sport Facility.
Trinity Semack, 4, meets Ike the Spike at the 10th annual SpikesFest on Sunday at the Penn State Multi-Sport Facility. knetzer@centredaily.com

Dreary gray clouds and rain hung over the Centre Region Sunday, but that didn’t deter families from enjoying the indoor SpikesFest 2016.

Hosted at the Penn State Multi-Sport Facility, SpikesFest brought the enjoyment of a day at the ballpark away from the rain, where parents and children could play games, hear music and take in a fun Sunday afternoon.

Sunday marked the 10th annual SpikesFest, Spikes Producer of In-Game Entertainment Director Ben Love said, as sponsors, community groups and nonprofits gathered together. Community groups stepped up by bringing their own activities this year, he said.

While we’re a baseball team, it’s not just about baseball. It’s all about all of Centre County and getting active in your community.

Spikes Producer of In-Game Entertainment Ben Love

“While we’re a baseball team, it’s not just about baseball,” he said. “It’s all about all of Centre County and getting active in your community.”

Many community sports groups were present, including the State College Lions Youth Football, Centre Bulldogs Youth Football and Cheer and State College Little League, and provided ball tosses and other activities. The Spikes provided entertainment, too, with an inflatable bounce house, obstacle course and a giant game of “Golfzilla.”

Taking over one corner of the room, Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania provided foam building supplies, toy car races and other building and learning opportunities. Outreach Events Coordinator Natalie Kapustik said the event gave Discovery Space an opportunity to spread the word about its preschool camps and weekday programming.

The museum will usually see an increase in attendance after appearing at an event like this, she said, as many people who haven’t heard about the museum will visit afterward. She said the museum had participated in SpikesFest in the past, and was appreciative of the invitation to return.

“We haven’t been to an event where we’ve had so much room to bring stuff,” she said, “so we’ve had a lot of kids visiting the table.”

Closer to the entrance, SpikesFest sponsor Mount Nittany Health educated kids on healthy eating with fun-shaped snacks. Diabetes instructor Amy Leffart presented a butterfly — celery with peanut butter, apple slice wings and pretzel antenna; a snail — celery with peanut butter, an apple slice shell and raisin eyes; and the classic ants on a log — celery and peanut butter with raisins on top.

The basic premise behind the snacks is that children — and many adults — don’t eat as healthy as they should, she said. Fifty percent of calories are coming from processed foods instead of fruits, vegetables and other whole foods.

“This is our first year for hosting snack education,” Leffart said. “We’re just trying to get healthy snacks out there and present them in a fun way so kids will eat healthy and try healthy things.”

Toward the back of the room, several model airplanes and drones sat on display, thanks to the State College Remote Control Club. Club secretary Chris Ivory said the club has been around since the 1960s and was started by a group of engineers.

Today, he said, members fly their planes in a field in Centre Hall. Being at SpikesFest lets people who have always been curious about the planes get a close look at them.

“(Model airplanes) is a kind of thing you might not have exposure to or know about,” Vice President Elwood Brem said. “At a place like this, we can show people the airplanes.”

The club offers a beginners program, he said, and carefully guides new fliers so they don’t end up crashing their planes. Novice pilots can get a cheaper foam plane to use on their initial flights, which is less expensive and easier to repair.

The club also offered model airplane flight simulators, which were very popular with the children. The program is so realistic, Brem said, a person can learn to fly straight off the simulator.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews