The first and probably the most important thing to know about Constitution Village is that there’s cake.
A long line swiftly formed beside the Grandstand at the Grange fairgrounds as volunteers began to cut a heaping mountain of chocolate and vanilla into manageable slices that could easily be redistributed onto small plates.
This and other small signs — the packed bleachers, tents numbered after amendments, youngsters performing show tunes from “Hamilton” — all tended to support the conclusion that one would naturally gravitate toward when putting an event titled “Constitution 230 Celebration” on their calendar.
The United States Constitution was turning 230 years old.
Under a tent dedicated to the First Amendment, Lisa Shaffer — a library assistant at Centre County Library — answered questions from visitors.
“With libraries, banned and challenged books kind of go hand-and-hand with freedom of speech,” Shaffer said.
To provide examples, she brought a table full of popular books that have been seriously questioned places across the country.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” came under fire for being a “real downer.” Other well-known titles on display included “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Little Women.”
Shaffer believes that libraries serve as a source of information to the public.
“That’s why we read books, because they open up worlds to us,” Shaffer said.
At another booth around the corner, Mike Herr — aka “Mike the Mailman” — addressed Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution: the post office.
Herr helped reel-in visitors with a big plastic tub of stamps from throughout history. Love, Elvis and puppies were all well represented in the collection.
“Animal stamps were always big,” Herr said.
He thinks stamps —and the mail in general— are becoming lost art, but that there will always be a special place in the world for a letter forged with pen and paper.
“I think it means a lot more to people than just an email,” Herr said.