On the charming streets of Huntingdon, Pa., a college town about three hours from Washington, D.C., visitors can swashbuckle with pirates or dance to swing music, all within a five-block neighborhood of this Victorian-era community.
Mayfest, held on April 25, features five distinct areas represented by song, dance, and street performances: Colonial Times, Back to the 50s, Victorian Era, Renaissance Fair, and Woodstock. There’s no charge for admission and most of the activities are also free. It’s a unique collection of demonstrations, musicians, dancers, and festivities that make Mayfest one of the more intriguing street fairs on the East Coast.
“The eclectic mix of eras represented at Mayfest is what makes this event so unique,” said Ed Stoddard, who promotes the area. “We have all kinds of different entertainment.
“You walk down one block and you see people walking in Victorian costumes, and then you turn a corner and you are watching scenes from Woodstock,” Stoddard said. “It has a nice historic feel.”
Linda Dermit, who organizes Mayfest, said the event was built out of an idea to celebrate spring, but also create a gathering unlike any other.
Local businesses got into the act and started sponsoring different eras.
“Every block has a business or organization that sponsors the activities,” Dermit said. “It turns into a big street fair.”
The one-day event draws upward of 10,000 people a year. Part of the attraction is the unexpected, with such a mix of different eras represented, and part is the family-friendly atmosphere, according to Stoddard. “There are a lot of things for kids to see and do,” he said. “You can see people from different eras mixing and mingling.”
Outdoor recreation hub, too
The community of Huntingdon is surrounded by farmland, along with state parks and forests, making it home to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in the region.
Huntingdon is also home to Raystown Lake, the biggest lake entirely in Pennsylvania. It’s the only state lake that is home to houseboats. And, it’s where you can drift by the undeveloped shoreline or ride miles of trails that buttress the lake.
“We are the only place in Pennsylvania where you can rent a houseboat,” Stoddard said. “You can spend the weekend boating on the lake, anchor at night in a quiet cove, and gaze at the stars.”
Most of the 118-mile-long shoreline is devoid of development, creating a true wilderness atmosphere in the region.
The 30-mile Allegrippis Trail System, highly regarded by the International Mountain Biking Association, is open year-round.
The trail system features three loops, each with a different level of difficulty and intensity, meaning novices to the most advanced cyclists can find good riding in the area.
On the east side of Raystown Lake, Trough Creek State Park gives visitors a good gateway into some of the best that Huntingdon County has to offer.
The park features 24 miles of hiking, with trails leading to Rainbow Falls and Balanced Rock, the park’s two signature nature areas.
Campers can spend the night in a designated campground, or they can rent a historic lodge that is a renovated ironmaster’s home.
It’s the endless possibilities of outdoor recreation, and the close proximity to major urban areas, that keep visitors coming back year after year.
“We have so many nature areas, and we are so close to Washington, D.C., and Virginia,” Stoddard said. “There is a lot to see and do in Huntingdon County.”
For more information
Huntingdon County Tourism: raystown.org