Potter Township turns 250 with community celebration

This story originally appeared in the Center County Gazette.

POTTER TOWNSHIP — To celebrate Potter Township turning a quarter millennium, the township will hold a community celebration on Saturday, June 8.

A range of events including historic bus tours; campfire ghost stories by Jeffrey Frazier, a Center Hall native and esteemed for his books archiving Pennsylvania folktales; a game show; festival activities; and more, will be held all day to “celebrate the rich heritage and bright future” of Potter Township shared committee member Amber Hubert.

The Potter Township 250 Heritage Day takes place on the south side of the Grange Fairgrounds. Parking for the event is free.

Four bus tours of the region’s historic sites are provided throughout the day. The tours are led by Jeffrey Wert, a retired Penns Valley teacher, and Martin Tobias, a Penns Valley history teacher.

“We have two fantastic Indigenous historians here that we really wanted to take advantage of,” Hubert said, explaining the planning process for the event. “Jeffrey Wert is a retired Penns Valley history teacher, and every time his name came up during planning, people kept talking about how he was their history teacher and how he was so good at captivating his audience. Martin Tobias is a current history teacher and every year he takes his students on a bus tour of Penns Valley, so he has a lot of insight.

Hubert said many of the area’s notable historic sites are on private property, which can make it challenging for residents to visit. The bus tour aims to make these locations accessible during the day so the community can enjoy and learn about the rich history of Potter Township. Stops on the tour include the Andrew Gregg Homestead, the Standford House, Eutaw House, Sinking Creek Cemetery, Shadeacre Monument, and more.

“After living here for two years, I realized that there is still so much undiscovered,” says Hubert. “If you’ve lived here all your life, if you’re a native, then you might know. But people new to the community may not realize that this is the oldest community in Center County. They don’t know that Potter Township originally included all of Penns Valley. It’s huge and it’s really cool how far back the history goes. Many of the landmarks have been there since the 17th and 18th centuries.”

Bus tours cost $5 and can be purchased at the Potter Township office. The tours take place at the following times:
• Tour A — 10 a.m. to 12 p.m
• Tour B — 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM
• Tour C — 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM
• Tour D — 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

“There is so much history in Pennsylvania and so many famous places,” Hubert said. “I feel like Bellefonte has done a really good job of highlighting their history. State College has done a good job. But I feel like Penns Valley is just a little hidden gem and I just want to show it off. We also have some really cool histories here.”

In addition to the bus tours, a festival will be held at the fairgrounds from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Food vendors will be available during the festival and the Center Hall Fire Department will cook and serve free food from 5 to 6:30 p.m. of Delectable Delights is also served free of charge. There will be games, crafts, face painting, a performance by Tilly the Clown and more for children throughout the festival. Three participants will demonstrate their knowledge of Penns Valley during the “Uncovering Potter Township: Game Show” at 4 p.m.

The game show will be hosted by Frazier, who will share select stories from his book “Pennsylvania Fireside Ghost Tales” later in the evening. Campfire Ghost Tales is free for all ages and begins at dusk in Penns Prairie Park.

“My goal and that of the other community members is to bring the community together,” Hubert said. “We are so caught up in technology and its advancements, the internet, social media and AI. I want to make the history of how we got here a little more accessible to everyone. For all ages, but especially for youth.”

For more information, visit the Heritage Day: Potter Township’s 250th Anniversary Page on Facebook or pottertownship.org.