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Auto tour event unites communities through the arts

PINE GROVE MILLS — A new event, dubbed “Route 45 Getaways!” will be held July 31 through Aug. 8.

Pine Grove Mills and Millheim are the anchor points for the nearly 25-mile stretch of road that connects the two towns. Between the two points, organizers estimate there are nearly 50 businesses and organizations.

“This is a really exciting multi-party effort,” said Liz Grove, owner of the newly refurbished Pine Grove Hall, a sponsor of the event. “We have a vision for an arts-focused celebration that will also strengthen relationships between local villages, businesses and community organizations,” Grove said in a statement.

According to Grove, participating businesses will receive additional exposure via a dedicated website as well as heavy social media marketing dedicated to getting the word out about the weeklong event. In return, those businesses will be asked to host either an art or a music event sometime during the July 31-Aug. 8 time period and provide gift cards or prizes to be used as giveaways.

“My hope for this event is to show that Millheim is willing to partner and work with other municipalities and groups for the sake of building community,” said Millheim Borough Council President Robert Zeigler in a statement. “The arts unify people and bring them together regardless of background, beliefs and ideology. After a year or so of putting ourselves in isolation, such isolation highlighted to me the need to have more events and opportunities to celebrate what many take for granted.”

“There is so much happening between these two points on the map — wineries, farm tours, bed and breakfasts and farmers markets,” Grove said. “And we want to celebrate that by creating a kind of auto tour that showcases these businesses and brings people to them.”

Designed for both tourists and residents, funding for “Route 45 Getaways!” comes from a grant made possible by The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau and the Centre County Board of Commissioners. Ferguson Township also contributed funding.

It’s not typically easy to develop a program that appeals to both tourists, local residents and business owners, said David Pribulka, Ferguson Township manager.

“The biggest challenge is creating an experience that will emphasize both novelty and tradition,” Pribulka said in a statement. “Residents who have lived their entire lives in this community should be able to discover something they never knew about; and people and families visiting for the first time should go home with a love and appreciation for the culture that has shaped our values for generations.”

Partners in the event are Ferguson Township, Millheim Borough and the Pine Grove Mills Small Area Plan Advisory Committee. The Centre County Farmland Trust is a key sponsor. Event sponsors include 814 Cider Works, Pine Grove Hall, Elk Creek Cafe and Pisano Winery.

The Route 45 Getaways! steering committee is assigning liaisons to help businesses located in and around Route 45 get involved.

Organizations, artists and musicians may also contact the committee via the Route 45 Getaways website contact form to participate in the event.

“We have a short window to get the first year off the ground, but we feel we can test the waters and set the stage for what we hope to be an annual event with lots of community involvement,” Grove said.

From Mirror staff reports

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