Food & Drink

Bellefonte Victorian Christmas takes care of the ‘bah, humbug’

A gingerbread house contest is part of the annual Bellefonte Victorian Christmas celebration.
A gingerbread house contest is part of the annual Bellefonte Victorian Christmas celebration. Centre Daily Times, file

This article originally ran in 2009, and there have been a lot of changes in Bellefonte since then. But some things stay the same — the gingerbread house contest is still on and Karen Grubb and her mother, Zelda Klinefelter, are still in charge, though they no longer judge. Horse-drawn carriage rides, arts and crafts fairs, special Dickens events and teas for children and adults alike make Bellefonte Victorian Christmas a destination that will put a smile on your face as you stroll through the town. There are home tours with the Bellefonte Women’s Club, Bellefonte Art Museum open houses, the Centre County Historical Museum tours and concerts, a library bake sale and arts and crafts shows in two locations. With many opportunities to duck in for a drink at a local pub, winery, cidery or distillery, the cheer will be widespread this holiday season through our increasingly dynamic county seat.

Bah, humbug! That’s how I was feeling about the holidays this year. Without kids at home there is no urgency to light up a household that seems pretty dim now that our youngest is out in Hollywood “livin’ the dream.” Bah, humbug; why bother?

But we took ourselves out last Saturday afternoon to see the new “Christmas Carol” in 3-D. By the end, we felt so inspired that we drove out to Bellefonte to look at Christmas lights and to see the town in the initial phases of decorating for the big Victorian Christmas celebration taking place this weekend.

Bellefonte has many things that State College lacks, like beautiful downtown buildings with slate roofs and pigeons, apothecary stores with small soda fountains in the rear and a majestic courthouse that sits like a crown jewel on the central diamond. There are hills as steep as some on Pittsburgh’s South Side and there’s a local coffee shop that serves as a town hub as well as a wide range of dining and imbibing options.

As we drove into town along the stream, Talleyrand Park was ablaze with lights, pedestrians strolling over the twinkling bridge, children playing in the gazebo. We did a drive through and found a parking spot in front of the Diamond Deli and peered through the window at a dozen or so gingerbread houses that were on display. It’s impossible to look at the intricacies attempted in these fanciful creations and have a “bah, humbug” attitude about Christmas. The painstaking effort was evident and joyful.

Karen Grubb and her mother, Zelda Klinefelter, are the gingerbread house judges who also chaired the committee last year. They are enthusiasts on a mission: to share their love of the craft and to encourage others to learn how to do it.

Victorian Christmas in Bellefonte offers a weekend full of traditional holiday fun. Santa will be in his house on the Diamond, and there are art and craft shows galore. Food activities include Children’s Teas on both Saturday and Sunday and a Victorian High Tea for adults. Don’t miss a chance to rekindle your own Christmas spirit!

Anne Quinn Corr is the author of “Seasons of Central Pennsylvania,” of several iBook cookbooks (“Food, Glorious Food!” “What’s Cooking?!” and “Igloo: Recipes to Cure the Winter Blues”) that are available for free on iTunes. She regularly posts to the blog and can be reached at

Bellefonte Victorian Christmas

The event kicks off with opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. Friday and runs through Sunday. For a full schedule of events, visit