Weekender

Top 5 Happy Valley events of 2015

Kayla Swift and her sister, Chelsea, browse prints by photographer Pat Little during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts on July 11. Arts Fest is a top draw year after year.
Kayla Swift and her sister, Chelsea, browse prints by photographer Pat Little during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts on July 11. Arts Fest is a top draw year after year. Centre Daily Times, file

In 2015, Centre County residents didn’t need to travel to see big-city entertainment and experience action-packed events.

The New Year looks to be much of the same — in the first couple of months alone, there will be chances to see country giant Jason Aldean, rap star Lil Wayne, a touring production of “Beauty and the Beast,” and more. And just wait until summer, when the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts turns 50 and the Grange Fair makes its annual return.

Below are five Centre Daily Times staff-selected picks for the top five events for 2015.

Sir Paul plays at the Bryce Jordan Center

It’s not often that a former Beatle performs in Happy Valley. In fact, until Oct. 15, it had never happened before. Paul McCartney’s Out There tour stopped by the Bryce Jordan Center for one-night only, but the anticipation started in late August, when the show was announced and quickly sold-out.

Before the show, fans lined Curtin Road to try and catch a glimpse of the legendary singer-songwriter, who was given his own Penn State Berkey Creamery flavor to mark the occasion.

Garth’s extended stay

Before April, it had been 18 years since country music king Garth Brooks visited Happy Valley. But for fans waiting for his return, Brooks delivered — and then some. He played six shows at the Bryce Jordan Center over two weeks.

For Brooks, State College was more than just a tour stop. His foundation, Teammates for Kids, held a floor hockey procamp at Pegula Ice Arena, where community kids came out to play and were cheered on by the star.

Jeff Gordon sports blue and white

A car took a lap around the Penn State campus on April 14, with much more fanfare than any other passing cars bring out. The driver? Three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon. The car? A No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS with a Penn State-theme. Two months later, the superstar drove the car at Pocono Raceway’s Axalta We Paint Winners 400 for the NASCAR Spring Cup Series.

Gordon was Penn State’s special guest as the university and Philadelphia-based Axalta Coating Systems celebrated its newly-formed partnership.

‘Jersey Boys’ plays the hits

Don’t be mad at the Penn State Center for the Performing Arts for getting Four Seasons songs like “Sherry” and “Oh What a Night” trapped in your mind for days. The infectious hits were some of those featured in the smash Broadway musical “Jersey Boys,” which stopped at Eisenhower Auditorium for a week in November.

The national tour brought out packed audiences and rave reviews.

Summer of art

Just when you thought the Centre Region’s summer arts weekend couldn’t get any bigger, Lemont Fest joined the July arts extravaganza this year. The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts brought thousands of people into downtown State College alone for the annual event featuring hundreds of vendors. The 23rd People’s Choice Festival in Boalsburg reported a very successful year for food vendors and artisans.

In 2016, Arts Fest will turn 50 — mark your calendars now for a milestone celebration July 14-17.

Jessica McAllister: 814-231-4617, @JMcAllisterCDT

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