Much like a painter who meticulously makes every brush stroke just right, or a woodworker who tirelessly shapes their work into the perfect piece for your home, all around Center County, local beverage makers are perfecting their craft for the public to enjoy.
From wine makers who select each blend from grapes grown right here in Center County to brewers who carefully mix their ingredients to make a variety of frosty beverages for us to enjoy, and from the men and women who work the stills to produce the perfect spirits for craft cocktails to the cidermakers who make magic out of apples, these creative and hardworking people are making some fine craft products right here in Center County.
Some, like myself, might even call what they do art.
And for the first time this year, these wonderful local craft products will be on hand at the biggest arts festival in the area, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
That’s right folks. Teaming with the Central PA Tasting TrailArts Fest will have a “Craft Beverage Garden” area where you can sit outside and enjoy a locally made drink while listening to some music and enjoying the sights and sounds of the festival.
Arts Festival has been considering a craft beverage area for years, and after two years of no in-person event due to the pandemic, the time was right to move on it, says CPFA Executive Director Rick Bryant.
“When we were planning on coming back to having an in-person Arts Festival after two years, we were thinking about what we could do to enhance the visitor experience, and we thought, well, what if we could give people an actual taste of what the Tasting Trail has to offer,” says Bryant.
With its focus on Center County’s many local craft beverage and spirits producers, the Central PA Tasting Trail was the perfect partner for the idea. After all, it has been a part of Art Fest since 2018, promoting its members’ local products and offering “Passports” for the Tasting Trail at a special Christmas in July rate.
The Central Pa Tasting Trail Passport is a fun way to visit and sample local wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries in Center County. CPTT is also known for hosting fun events such as the Summer Craft Beverage Expo in Talleyrand Park every June. Now the organization is excited to bring the taste of its members’ beverages to one of the biggest events in State College.
The craft beverage area will be located in the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza from Thursday, July 14, to Saturday, July 16, from 12:30 to 6:30 pm A $10 cover charge will support the Arts Festival and the Tasting Trail.
Once inside the plaza, patrons with valid ID will have the opportunity to sample and save these wonderful craft beverages made right here in Center County. Those who find something they enjoy will be able to purchase bottled beverages to take home. Each day will feature a different collection of Tasting Trail member producers, each offering their locally made products.
“We will be out there for you to taste some really unique profiles and to give you a surprising beverage that you want to sit and enjoy and see as something unique. It is an art. … What better craft to support than craft beverages?” says Celesta Powell, marketing manager of the CPTT.
She says at the “Craft Beverage Garden,” patrons will find “some really nice places to relax and maybe think about the purchase you really want and have a cocktail. There will be some nice entertainment, and some really nice snacks from the new folks taking over the Red Horse Tavern. Something light, something fresh. Just a great way to experience something new.”
“What people can’t do is take an open container outside of the Martin Luther King Plaza,” says Bryant. “One thing nice about having it in the MLK Plaza is that if this isn’t your bag, you can go to the festival and experience it just the way that you always do, by walking through the sidewalk sale and enjoying music on the Old Main Lawn or Allen Street Stage. But, if you want to do the craft beverage tasting, it is just a half a block away, it is in a nice place, and you’ll have a great time.”
Powell adds that it is important for the CPTT to “show the community that drinking responsibly is a big thing for us and is one of our priorities. …Our goal is to have a really comfortable space where you can have some craft beverages and listen to some music and just chill out. Maybe think about that gigantic panting or piece of jewelry you really want and come hang with us.”
For Tasting Trail members, being part of the event offers a chance to share what they do with a wider audience.Which is something that Bryant says Arts Festival is all about, noting, “We are not having Anheuser Busch over there. These are things that are made by friends and neighbors. As a county, we are proud of them and we should be able to show them off. Maybe when people come and experience them at the festival, they will think, ‘Oh, I should come back and do the Tasting Trail’ or ‘I should visit Center County again.’ T&G
Staff writer Vincent Corso enjoys drinking local and meeting new people at central Pennsylvania’s many interesting establishments. This story appears in the July 2022 issue of Town&Gown.