Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

On Saturday we left Akron and drove into Pennsylvania.  We stop at the first rest stop and saw a sign which said: "Smile, you are in Pennsylvania".  As we exited the area and drove back on the highway a sign reminded us to buckle up "for the next million miles".  Not a bad idea... Further down the road we saw a sign which said only "Pennsylvania Wilds".  I was starting to think that someone in Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation had a good sense of humor- but I later found out that there really is an area called Pennsylvania Wilds.  It is a remote and rugged area in the northwestern part of the state.  As we came into the area we crossed a very scenic river gorge of the Allegheny River.  We also drove through the southern border of the Allegheny National Forest.  Soon we were climbing into the Allegheny Mountains and enjoying many scenic vistas.   Unfortunately my camera died when we entered Pennsylvania.
After seeing the gardens at Stan Hywet I did not expect to see so much beauty in one spot again for a long time.  However, we have found in our travels that we can always count on the unexpected to happen.  At the entrance to the Fort Bellefonte Campground beautiful gardens and fountains greeted us.  I do believe it is one of the prettiest places we have ever chosen to park our rig!  After getting our home hooked up and set for the night, we drove into the town of Bellefonte.  The town sits at the base of Bald Eagle Mountain, which is at the western most ridge of the Appalachians.  The town was named for its beautiful fountain and the springs which provide the town's water supply.  We enjoyed a stroll through Talleyrand Park where the springs and Spring River is located.  Off to the side of the park is a large match factory, now closed.   We also walked through the historic area of town where there are many large early Victorian homes and buildings.  The town is also famous for being the hometown of seven governors, some of which were governors of states other than Pennsylvania.  We met up with a couple of local people who were quite eager to talk with us about the town, and they encouraged us to stop by the Grange Fair while we were in town.
At church on Sunday we again talked to people who encouraged us to attend the Grange Fair, which is going on at present.  It is quite the event for the town and surrounding county.  Schools don't dare to begin until after the fair.  People live there in tents for the whole week of the fair (in recent years recreational vehicles have joined the tents on the fairgrounds).  The tents are very large and of one color and size.  They are provided by the fairgrounds and in move-in condition a day before the fair opens.  Tent spots are allocated to individuals and have been kept by most families since the beginning of the fair, which was 138 years ago. There is a fee of $200.00 for the week.   So we drove over to the town of Centre Hall, where the fair is located.  We came primarily to see the tents, the fair was not that important to us.   As we walked through a row of tents we saw an elderly woman sitting in one of them,  and we stopped to talk to her.  She claims that there is nothing like the Grange Fair in all of the world.  Her parents had the same site she was currently sitting in and  she has been coming to the fair "since she was born".  We were amazed at the furnishings which people bring in for the week.  We saw iron bedsteads, sofas and recliners- not to mention microwaves, televisions and refrigerators.  Some decorate the entrance of their tent with farm and garden themes, or Christmas lights.  A couple of the tents had birthday parties going on, it all was a rather amazing sight.   Most tents are a few feet away from the midway, food stands and exhibit barns.  I could not help but wonder how those people kept from pigging out on the hot dogs, kettle corn, funnel cakes, ice cream and caramel apples which surround them for the whole week of the fair!

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