Road Trip! Destination: Brookville
By Rachel Weaver
Published: Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, 8:15 p.m.
Every winter, a camping area about an hour-and-a-half northeast of Pittsburgh becomes the temporary home to a group of people who aren't afraid to brave the elements in the name of art, expression and community.
Frostburn is a regional event that brings the essence of Burning Man — the annual celebration of music and art in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada — to Western Pennsylvania.
“A group of people in southwest Pennsylvania who have regularly been going to Burning Man for years wanted to bring the spirit of Burning Man back to Pittsburgh,” says Kim Bellora of Highland Park, one of the event's organizers. “Burning Man has the heat, sun and sand — what better way to battle the elements than in the middle of winter?”
This year's event runs from Feb. 13 to 17 at Camp Kevin in Brookville. The event started in 2008 near Slippery Rock and was held for the first time in Brookville in 2013. It attracts about 500 people.
Figuring out unique ways to stay warm is half the fun, Bellora says.
“It's very fun seeing what people are about to come up with,” she says.
For those looking to extend their exploration of Brookville beyond Frostburn, there are other attractions and activities, as well.
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or email@example.com.
Frostburn, a sanctioned Burning Man regional event, gives artists the opportunity to experiment with materials and themes inspired by winter. Participants organize music camps, dance parties, food offerings, story times and more.
Participants adhere to the same 10 principles of Burning Man and other regional burns: radical inclusion, acts of gifting, lack of commodification, self-reliance, self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation and immediacy.
“What happens to you at a burn depends largely on what you bring to the event,” the event's website reads. “At a burn, you are the entertainer! You are the artist! You are the performer! Bring an open mind, a willingness to try something new and a desire to ‘share the warmth' with some of the most creative people on the planet!”
Frostburn is an all-volunteer, community-sponsored event. In addition to fires allowed at individual campsites, there are theme camps that provide heated spaces. Participants are encouraged to bring along sleeping bags rated to minus-20 degrees or better. They also can sleep in their RVs or cars.
The website offers a full “survival guide” along with tips and ideas for how to get the most out of the event.
The town of Brookville was named a National Historic District in 1983, becoming one of Pennsylvania's first Main Street Projects. Many of the historic buildings have been preserved.
“I think some of the main features of this town is the general beauty of it,” says Melanie Darrin, Brookville Area Chamber of Commerce executive director. “The homes are, for the most part, painted in historic colors and the downtown buildings are as well.
“Although we are a small town, there's much to find by the way of shopping. We have antique stores, a wonderful toy store with an extensive inventory, gift shops and great restaurants. We are a few minutes away from Cook Forest State Park where there is something for everyone.”
Cook Forest State Park
Cook Forest State Park encompasses 11,536 acres in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Bordered by the picturesque Clarion River, the park is most known for its 200- to 350-year-old trees, some as tall as 200 feet. Classified as a National Natural Landmark, Cook Forest State Park is also known as the “Black Forest” of Pennsylvania.
Cook Forest State Park is open year-round and features a trail system of 52 miles. Camping and log cabins are available. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, sledding and ice-skating.
BWP Bats, manufacturer of more than 30,000 hand-crafted bats a year, opens its doors from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays for free public tours.
BWP produces bats for players of all ages from those just starting out in T-Ball to 120-plus professional players who use them.
Large parties are urged to call ahead to schedule tours.
Details: 814-849-0089 or www.bwpbats.com
Jefferson County History Center
The Jefferson County History Center houses several exhibit areas, a research room and library and History Center Shop. The center collected artifacts, photographs, documents and books related to the history of the rural county from prehistoric times to the present.
It also hosts public programs.
An exhibit titled “Kate Scott: Did She or Didn't She?” about the woman who reportedly had a relationship with John Wilkes Booth, opens March 1. A show of Wilma Gilstrap's watercolors is set to open in March.
The museum features a model railroad by Charlie Bowdish, the Brookville native who started the miniature railroad at the Carnegie Science Center. An event celebrating his birthday will be March 1.
Details: 814-849-0077 or www.jchconline.org
Coolspring Power Museum
The Coolspring Power Museum collection documents the early history of the internal-combustion revolution.
It contains the largest collection of historically significant, early stationary gas engines in the country. It consists mainly of stationary gas engines used in industrial applications.
The museum also maintains a substantial library and archive related to the objects in the collection and to the internal-combustion engine in general.
The museum is closed for the winter and will reopen in April.
Details: 814-849-6883 or www.coolspringpowermuseum.org
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