Every August, the Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences hosts Ag Progess Days. The three-day event is Pennsylvania’s largest outdoor agricultural exposition. Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of the university. The event features exhibits showcasing the latest in Penn State Research as well as educational programs and guided tours.
Every April, the Penn State Nittany Lions football team concludes their spring camp by playing in the Blue-White inter-squad scrimmage at Beaver Stadium. What once was just a scrimmage for the fans has now turned into an entire weekend event. The highlight of the weekend is still the game, but now visitors to Penn State can enjoy the Blue White Carnival next to the Bryce Jordan Center as well which features rides, games, a WingFest contest and the annual Penn State Idol singing competition. In addition, there will be player autograph sessions before the game. The weekend wraps up on Sunday with the Beaver Stadium 5K Run/Family Fun Walk on Sunday.
The Bryce Jordan Center (BJC) is a 400,000 square foot, 16,000 seat, multipurpose building located on the campus of Penn State University. The BJC opened in 1996 and is the largest venue of its kind between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The arena can accommodate a variety of meeting groups from twenty people to a banquet for 1600, to a concert or sports event with 15,000 guests.
The BJC is home to the Penn State Men’s and Women’s basketball teams and have hosted a variety of events including circuses, Penn State commencement, lectures, career fairs, Big Ten Basketball, NBA pre-season games, and some of the top performers in the music industry. Entertainers who have performed at the BJC include Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Cher, Backstreet Boys, Carry Underwood, Elton John, Janet Jackson, Pearl Jam, Kanye West, Whitney Houston, Zac Brown Band, and B.B. King.
Each July, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts brings over 125,000 people to downtown State College and the campus of Penn State University. The event kicks off on Wednesday with its children’s day and lasts through the weekend with its nationally recognized sidewalk art sale and exhibitions. Theatrical and musical performances also take place throughout the duration of the event. The first festival took place in 1962 on the lawn of Old Main. The event has grown so large that it stretches from on campus to the downtown area; even blocking off a portion of downtown’s Allen Street.
Home to Penn State University’s Center for the Performing Arts, the Eisenhower Auditorium is a 2,551-seat theatre located on campus. Whether it be the annual performance of the Nutcracker Ballet at the holidays, a broadway show, musical group or comedic performance, you will find that the Eisenhower Auditorium always has a great calendar lined up each year. Past performances have features the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Orchestra, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, the Russian National Ballet and the Vienna Boys Choir. In addition, past broadway shows that made their way to State College included Hair, Rock of Ages, Seussical and Spamalot.
Fourth Fest is State College’s annual Fourth of July celebration held each year. The day kicks off with the Firecracker 4K race followed by the Parade of Heroes in downtown State College. The Fourth fest carnival begins later in the day next to Beaver Stadium and leads up to the Firework spectacular to conclude the celebration. The firework show has been rated as the third biggest and best show in the United States.
The Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair, better known as the Grange Fair, is held each August in Centre Hall, PA; just minutes from State College. Starting it 1874, the Grange Fair is one of the nation’s oldest encampment fairs. With more than 950 tents, 1,300 RV’s, concessions, 7,000 exhibit items and amusement rides, the Centre County Grange Fair has also grown into one of the largest encampment fairs in the country.
The Penn State Dance Marathon, commonly known as THON to Penn Staters, is held every February at the Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State University. THON is a 46-hour dance marathon benefitting the Four Diamond Fund. It is the mission of THON to conquer pediatric cancer by providing outstanding emotional and financial support to the children, families, researchers and staff of the Four Diamond Fund. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $101 million, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Every May and December a new group of Penn State Alumni is made as the graduating students walk the stage and receive their degrees from Penn State University. Commencement ceremonies are held on campus at the Bryce Jordan Center and the Eisenhower Auditorium and typically last about 90 minutes. The ceremony includes remarks by the commencement speaker, the conferring of degrees, individual recognition of each graduate as he or she crosses the stage, and a welcome into the Penn State Alumni Association. Past speakers have included filmmaker, Ken Burns and Political News Anchor, Wolf Blitzer.
Each June, the Special Olympics of PA hold their annual Summer Games at Penn State University. The event draws more than 2,000 athletes, 750 coaches and 2,500 volunteers from the community. Competitions in aquatics, athletics, basketball, bowling, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, softball, tennis and track and field highlight the three-day event. Opening ceremonies, which includes the torch lighting, are held at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.