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Agencies like the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are on hand for tips, like picking the perfect pack. Kids are welcome to participate./Gina Thompson

Event held alongside world-class trout fishing stream

The community of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania — just 12 miles from State College and Penn State University — is a well-known destination for fly fishermen. If you ask an avid fisherman, they’ll tell you that the area has one of the finest trout streams in the East.

Fishing is just the beginning for this town, also known for its historic architecture and large events like Bellefonte Under the Lights and Bellefonte Victorian Christmas. It’s a paradise for hikers, bikers, kayakers and even offers rock-climbing opportunities.

“Not only is Bellefonte surrounded by three incredible state forests, it also has a world-class fly fishing stream running through its downtown,” says Gina Thompson, Main Street Manager of Downtown Bellefonte Inc. “Bellefonte is centrally located for all types of outdoor adventures, whether it’s canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing or camping — there’s something for everyone who is interested in the outdoors.”


Bellefonte food blogger "Maria Makes" gave a demonstration on making energy balls in 2019, a perfect snack to hit the trail with./Gina Thompson

This will be the second year for the Outdoor Adventure Expo, slated for Sunday, October 11, from noon to 5 p.m., and held in the community’s Talleyrand Park and along the Bellefonte Waterfront Walk. The free-admission, regional event promotes nature-based tourism and commerce, with the added benefit of promoting health benefits of getting outside. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the host organization, Downtown Bellefonte Inc., to aid in its economic development initiatives.

At the Expo, you’ll find exhibitor booth space open to adventure-based nonprofits (clubs, conservation orgs), manufacturers and vendors; as well as free workshops that will educate attendees on interests and activities like fly fishing, field first aid and camping basics. In 2019, organizers reported an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 visitors, with more than 45 vendors and 12 outdoors-themed workshops.

“Last year’s event was a great start and we only want to make it bigger and more fun,” said Melissa Hombosky, one of the event organizers. “We are welcoming back many of last year’s vendors and adding more: more State Parks and more makers.”

Hombosky said that the workshop series was well received and this year, the expo is expanding the areas of interest.


The Outdoor Adventure Expo brings in vendors offering many types of recreation equipment and more./Gina Thompson

“From cooking with local foraged finds to beekeeping, we want people to be able to take something away that makes their time in the outdoors more valuable,” she said. “Whether it’s in our community or theirs, we want people to get outside and truly enjoy their time connecting to nature.”

Insider tip: At the expo, Downtown Bellefonte Inc. will raffle off a 2-person kayak package from Tussey Mountain Outfitters. This package is valued at $1,200 and raffle tickets will be available to buy in advance.

This year, the Expo has joined forces with the Central Pennsylvania Tasting Trail to hold the event alongside the Summer Craft Beverage Expo — which will be held adjacent to the Expo in the same park.

“While you're checking out all the amazing outdoor opportunities that the region has to offer, you can now grab an adult beverage at the Summer Craft Beverage Expo,” Thompson said.

The tasting trail consists of 12 craft beverage producers in Centre County: four microbreweries, four wineries, two distilleries, and two cideries, all typically represented at the Summer Craft Beverage Expo.

And while the Expo is only held one day, Thompson says it’s the perfect excuse to make a weekend trip to Bellefonte.

“In Bellefonte, there’s plenty of places to shop — from boutique clothing, to jewelry, to antiques and furniture,” she said. “We also have a variety of restaurants, each serving up their own local flare. You can get everything from home-style Italian cuisine from Bonfatto’s, or build your own burger at State Burger Co.”

Bellefonte’s bed and breakfasts are just a short walk away from the downtown, as well. Try staying at the brand-new Bellefonte Bed & Breakfast on Allegheny Street, or at one of the well-known properties like Reynolds Mansion, Our Fair Lady Bed & Breakfast, or Riffles & Runs. To get the true outdoors experience during the expo, consider camping at a nearby state park like Bald Eagle State Park.

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