Business Spotlight: Organizers hope first Thaw Festival is a success in State College

Vinh Vuong is the media representative for Thaw Festival. The festival, which will run Feb. 25-March 1, is designed to highlight local music, film and comedy.
Vinh Vuong is the media representative for Thaw Festival. The festival, which will run Feb. 25-March 1, is designed to highlight local music, film and comedy. CDT photo

Vinh Vuong hopes the first Thaw Festival will be a staple in State College going forward.

Thaw, which will run Feb. 25 to March 1, is an event that will highlight local arts, film, music and comedians.

The festival will take place at the same time as State Patty’s Day, scheduled for Feb. 28, a student-created drinking holiday, but organizers said the event is not part of the event.

“We have no event like this at the beginning of the year for the State College and Penn State community,” Vuong, the festival’s spokesman, said. “I have a personal investment in helping to grow the community, because I’m from here, and I went to State College and Penn State. We really want to support and highlight the local talent here.”

Q: What is the inspiration behind Thaw?

A: The inspiration for Thaw was to satisfy the community’s desire for more community events year round for State College and Penn State. Thaw has partnered with the annual College Film Festival, (which is) in its third year (and traditionally was held in April), to bring this event to life along with numerous Centre County and Penn State organizations/groups.

Q: Who is behind the scenes organizing Thaw?

A: Thaw is proudly supported by Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, the borough of State College, (Penn State’s) College of Communications, Penn State Student Affairs, Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, (Penn State’s) department of film/video and media studies, Center for Global Studies, College of Liberal Arts, Penn State Performing Arts Council, Penn State Cross Country Club, Council of LionHearts, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, Department of Geography and many other groups and individuals in the Penn State and State College communities.

Q: Have organizers received cooperation from local businesses to be a part of Thaw?

A: Absolutely. The local businesses in this town are phenomenal and cooperative. We’re all in it for the same reasons and have the same goals.

Q: Were there qualifications businesses had to meet to participate in Thaw?

A: Nope. Most of the events are in downtown State College in addition to on Penn State’s campus, so naturally they’ll be a part of it in addition to participating.

Q: Is Thaw only for students or can anyone participate?

A: Thaw is for families and members of the greater State College area in addition to students. Again, our goal is to unite the State College and Penn State communities.

Q: In recent years, Penn State shelled out money, about $200,000 last year, to get taverns, restaurants and beer distributors to go dry on State Patty’s Day. Was that not enough to curb drinking during State Patty’s Day weekend, and is Thaw’s timing related in order to curb the State Patty’s Day activities?

A: I really can’t comment on that, but, you know, I think the community wants to move on and so do many of the students.

Q: Will taverns, restaurants and beer distributors participating in Thaw serve alcohol during it?

A: It’s going to be treated like any other weekend.

Q: Is the event going to be similar to the Central Pennsylvania Arts of the Festival held in July?

A: We’re hoping this becomes the winter festival, like Arts Fest is the main event festival in the summer.

Q: Do you think Thaw will be a success for local businesses and the community?

A: I truly believe so. Like anything happening in its first year, there’s always last-minute changes, and we’ll make mistakes, but we’ll learn from it and grow. We just hope that people enjoy the festival, support our local talents and have fun.

Related stories from Centre Daily Times