Merry Millheim shows off town attractions, aids library

Millheim merchants are working harder than North Pole elves to bring holiday cheer to the streets of their Penns Valley community.

The local business community is again hosting Merry Millheim. The event, now in its third year, will be held Dec. 6 and 7, and will feature music, food, shopping, children’s activities and plenty of holiday spirit.

And in that spirit of giving, organizers are making sure the celebration helps a good cause.

The event will benefit the East Penns Valley Library as it transitions from part of the Centre County library system to an independent, community facility.

Trustees of the county library system voted to close the Millheim branch in October in a cost-cutting move they said was unfortunate, but necessary because of decreased state and federal funding and tough economic times.

Friends of the East Penns Valley Library and others have rallied, however, and have reopened the facility as a community library.

Martha Hoffman, owner of Inglebean Coffee House and a Merry Millheim organizer, said helping the library, a community asset, seemed like a natural fit.

“For us it really isn’t just about making our businesses more profitable, but making the community as a whole a more vibrant, liveable place,” Hoffman said.

“Since the library is the most recent in need, it seemed to make sense.”

Hoffman is among several Millheim business owners who have banded together in recent years to market the town through celebrations and to help raise the quality of life.

“We are interested in letting people know what Millheim has to offer,” she said.

The business owners who help organize the event each have something different to offer and are encouraged to show that off.

“What we like to do is allow each business to go in their own direction,” Hoffman said. “We encourage everyone to offer special events, things that will appeal to lots of people and fit in well with their own business.”

That approach leads to a wide variety of attractions, such as craft making and cookie decorating, music performances and story time for youngsters.

Hoffman said Merry Millheim drew more people in its second year than its first, and that organizers are hoping for an even better, and more diverse turnout in 2013.

“We’re really hoping to draw a wide variety of people,” she said. “We definitely get a lot of new people, and a good combination of locals.

“Some have been to Millheim before, and then want to come back and see what’s going on,” Hoffman said. “Others heard Millheim might be a fun place to visit.”

Thanks in part to events such as Merry Millheim, the community can show it is a destination, she said.

“It’s just been incredibility positive,” Hoffman said.