Bellefonte

Festa-Nic highlights locally sourced foods

Folks brave the rainy weather to listen to The Tommy Roberts perform during Festa-Nic on Sunday on the Pleasant Gap Fire Company carnival grounds.
Folks brave the rainy weather to listen to The Tommy Roberts perform during Festa-Nic on Sunday on the Pleasant Gap Fire Company carnival grounds. adrey@centredaily.com

Local meats. Local dairy. Local vegetables. Local eggs. Local oils.

Is there anything Centre County can’t supply?

Highlighting the numerous food products that come out of the county and surrounding areas, the Village Eatinghouse in Boalsburg presented Festa-Nic, a showcase of locally sourced food, beverages and accessories. Hosted Sunday at the Pleasant Gap Fire Company carnival grounds, the event sought to connect the people of the area with the foods available to them.

About 30 local farms and businesses were featured, highlighting items from french fries and pierogies to coffee, wine and salad dressing.

“So many people came together to make the fest happen,” Village Eatinghouse owner Melanie Phillips said. “I’m so thankful to the vendors who made all this possible.”

For a $10 entry fee, visitors were invited for food and beverage samples, seminars and live music. A locally sourced picnic plate was offered, featuring food from area producers such as Rising Spring Meat Company in Spring Mills, the Blonde Bistro in Bellefonte and the Garden and Seafood Shack in Centre Hall.

The vendors donated enough food to feed 1,000, Phillips said.

Jay Young, of Rising Spring, said it was great to be part of an event that helped connect local farmers to the people of Happy Valley and the county at large.

You don’t have to look elsewhere for things like meat and vegetables. We have everything right here.

Jay Young, Rising Spring Meat Company

“You don’t have to look elsewhere for things like meat and vegetables,” he said. “We have everything right here.”

Proceeds from the event benefited the Friends and Farmers Cooperative — a community-owned business featuring farmers, producers and consumers across the county.

Co-op board Chairwoman Michele Marchetti said she was happy with the turnout despite the rain. The event, she said, was a great example of what the co-op is all about — bringing the community together to promote local businesses and food.

The co-op was founded several years ago, she said, and opened an online market two years ago featuring all locally sourced products. The ultimate goal for the organization, however, is to eventually open a brick-and-mortar grocery store stocked only with locally grown and produced foods.

“What’s really cool about this community is you don’t have to go anywhere else for food this time of year,” she said. “In a time where food scares are rampant, we can rely on our own community.”

Local food is available year-round in this county, she said. Buying local helps preserve the agricultural community of the region and also helps keep the money in the local economy.

The online market has already made tangible effects on the economy, she said, having sold more than $100,000 in its first year. Anyone can become a part of the co-op, which provides discounts through the market as well as a share in the organization.

There’s a hunger for this type of an event in the community, where we can go out and be together ... and participate as community members and consumers of food.

Friends and Farmers Chairwoman Michele Marchetti

“There’s a hunger for this type of an event in the community,” Marchetti said, “where we can go out and be together ... and participate as community members and consumers of food.”

County Commissioner Michael Pipe, who volunteered to help Sunday, said there’s a need in the community to harness all the different partners that are trying to make local agriculture bigger in the area. The question is how to get more people to consume and make use of the local agriculture.

“(Festa-Nic) is an event that helps continue the mission and the good will of all the organizations that are here,” he said. “It’s a fun event for the community to come out and be a part of that local movement for more local food being utilized by Centre County residents.”

For more information about Friends and Farmers or to access the online market, visit www.friendsandfarmers.coop.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

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