Written by diminor1929 on 22 Sep, 2002
Most people come here to spend the last week every August reuniting with friends and relatives they have known for generations. The encampment started 138 years ago when farmers who lived far away from each other used the Grange Fair as the main social…Read More
Most people come here to spend the last week every August reuniting with friends and relatives they have known for generations. The encampment started 138 years ago when farmers who lived far away from each other used the Grange Fair as the main social and business event of the year. In order to stay for several days, early grangers began renting old Civil War tents. There are spaces now for 950 tents and these spaces are tougher to get than New York brownstones. You have to be born into or marry into a family that has rights to one. The tents are coveted heirlooms that have witnessed generations of enthusiastic grangers come and go, through heat, hurricane, flood, lack of water, electricity, etc. . . . But the fair still caters to "daytrippers" and weekenders like myself to be successful. Newcomers and first-timers are welcome as well. If you plan to stay overnight, just make sure you reserve accommodations elsewhere, as you won''t be able to rent a space at the fair.
Competition for the #1 theme-tent is stiff and people go to great lengths to win. Nightime in Tent City resembles Christmas with the brightly lit campsites decorated to suit the theme. Another one of my favorite attractions is the exhibits. Prize quilts, tablecloths, doilies as well as floral arrangements, canned foods and gourmet vegetables are on display in the main exhibition hall. Having a show "catalog" makes this more interesting as you can see the "requirements" for exhibits. You can view the assortment of livestock being judged either in the arena or cruise through the animal barns.
The mood of the crowd is unbelievably friendly -- everyone considers each other to be "family" in one sense or another. It is part kitsch, part Americana, part county fair/state fair all rolled into one. There are activities to entertain every member of the family. Senior citizens can attend special seminars on prescription drugs, legal terminology, sharing grange memories, old-time music and catch up with old friends. For children there are daily junior livestock exhibits, dances with a DJ, arts and crafts programs, a special kid''s day featuring a circus, Buford the Bear, a magician, Elephant Encounter, relay races, horseless rodeo activities, sand castle contest, and a Talent Show. Other attractions include "Cowboys for Christ" and "Deacons of Dixieland," "Phil Dirt and the Dozers," a live band, Horseshoe Pitching contests, livestock shows, Family Heritage Afternoon, Giant Ice Cream Sundae, High School band presentations, and a variety of performing groups. Of course there are the typical midway type games of skills and chance, amusement park rides, flea market type booths, a great assortment of new, state of the art RV''s open for inspection. Some of these are unbelievable! The list of fun stuff to do is endless . . . You have to go and experience it yourself to appreciate it all. This was my second year and I plan on going back again!
Written by Suzanne715 on 12 Jun, 2005
The half-mile-long stream running through the cave receives its water supply (to the trickle of 11,000,000 gallons per day) from many area springs. The cavern serves as a drainage basin.While waiting to board our boat, children purchase fish food by the handful for $0.25. The…Read More
The half-mile-long stream running through the cave receives its water supply (to the trickle of 11,000,000 gallons per day) from many area springs. The cavern serves as a drainage basin.
While waiting to board our boat, children purchase fish food by the handful for $0.25. The children toss the bits into the water and watch the trout jump, splash, and nibble on the food. The purple, green, and pink scales on the rainbow trout twinkle in the sunlight. Steph, our captain, opens the gate and everyone climbs aboard.
Blue-grey limestone arcs high overhead. Thousands of stalactites resemble inverted sand castles on a beach. Bright lights beam on the captivating columns, stalagmites, and stalactites that fill the Cathedral Room. Stripes of grey, rust, black, and white line the rock walls in a random pattern. Large, white Angel Wings lying flat against the ceiling show the beauty of what calcium carbonate produces.
As the boat maneuvers its way through the intricate waterway, we pass groupings of small stalactites covered with a white flowstone that resembles newly fallen snow. A brightly lit nativity scene created from stalagmites sits high upon a ledge.
We cross through the Strait of Gibralter, where many large cracks appear in the limestone. Long ago, water seeped through cracks and froze, forcing enormous chunks of rock to tumble to the floor where they broke into smaller pieces. One large rock stands alone in the middle of the water, thus creating the Rock of Gibraltar.
We cruise through the next hall, passing formations called Niagra Falls, Dragon, and couple of Tortoise Shells, all made form sandy-brown flowstone. Water drips heavily through cracks above our heads. Long, sleek ribbon formations curve along the ceiling.
Arriving at the Rainbow Room, Steph treats us to a display of colorful lights. Large stalactites, stalagmites, and a stately 14-foot column star in the spectacular show. Red, the first color to perform, gets lots of oohs and ahs from the audience. Green shows it can look just as stunning, but gives the stage an entirely different aura. The colors switch to a blue-purple mix, a pleasing surprise. Last, we observe all the colors at once. The stunning rainbow of light produces a sunset backdrop for the largest stalagmites, as if they were playing cacti in a dessert.
In the last part of the tunnel, daddy longlegs grouped together in a corner hibernate for the cold winter ahead. A few small brown bats have also taken cover here for the next few months in the 52°F cave.
Exiting the tunnel, two beautiful swans greet us for our tour of Lake Nitanee. We peer through the fence of the wildlife park and catch a sight of a full-grown elk sporting gorgeous antlers. A flock of Canadian geese rest on the green grass and a blue heron takes to flight. Being a gardener, I notice the seedpods from last summer’s wildflowers covering small islands in the lake. I smile, knowing they will provide food for the birds over the winter. The lake drains over a 10-foot waterfall that is the start of Penn’s Creek.
The rock in this cavern has an abundance of iron, which makes the formations very strong. No stalagmites grow underwater–they need air to form. There are two natural openings and one man-made, created in 1925 (the tunnel out to the lake).
Seneca Indians used the cave and left behind beads and arrowheads. Hundreds of years later, a schoolteacher explored the cavern with a raft and torch. The cave opened to the public in 1885.
The tour of Penn’s Cave lasts about 1 hour. Also located on the grounds are a gift shop, snack bar, picnic area, gem panning, and a 90-minute tour of the wildlife park with black bears, elk, grey wolves, and many more animals. The cave operates daily year-round from 9am to 5pm. From June 1 to August 31 it remains open until 7pm. They close for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The cave is on Route 192, 18 miles east of State College, in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania.
For more information on the cave, check Penn’s Cave, or call 814/364-1664. For places to stay and other attractions see Centre County Visitors Bureau or call 800/358-5466.