By Trent Jonas
Pennsylvania stretches from the salty Delaware River estuary to the Great Lakes; mountains, forests, rivers and streams define the land in between. And that means there is plenty of natural splendor to celebrate. From fishing to running, here are the best outdoor festivals in Pennsylvania!
Every June, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission hosts the Family Fishing Festival at Lackawanna State Park. The event is designed for anglers of all ages (over five, anyway) who would like to learn basic fishing skills or to hone their techniques while fishing during the festival. The event is free, and all equipment will be provided at no cost. No fishing license is required to fish during the festival.
Hiking enthusiasts can celebrate the renowned Appalachian Trail (AT) at the annual Duncannon Appalachian Trail Festival. An official Appalachian Trail Community, Duncannon is proud of its connection to the AT and celebrates it with a festival every June. In addition to guided hikes, there will also be craft activities for children, wildlife programs, food vendors and live music.
The annual Regatta at Lake Arthur is more than just a boat race. Rather, the boat race is an excuse to throw a big party with many events and activities like cycling, fishing—and bowfishing—paddling, swimming, yoga and of course, sailing and rowing. Vendors include Care Chiropractic Center, Burritos by Brett, Olympos Gyros, and Barbara's Mobile Boutique.
The Harvest Running Festival—"a celebration of human potential"—offers a slate of races over a couple of days, including a cross-country, evening 5K and a half-marathon in the morning. Runners can sign up for either event, or if they're feeling particularly motivated, both.
Every October, the village of Walnutport celebrates its heritage and historic canal with its annual Canal Festival. The festival includes events like hayrides, a 6K "Towpath Trot," a fun run and walk, and a "Fall Frolic Along the Towpath." Live music, food vendors and kids' activities will be available. Secure biking parking will be available thanks to Rails to Trails and the Lehigh County Regional Council of the D&L Trail Alliance. Susquehanna Bank and the North Lehigh County Chapter of Thrivent Financial are also sponsors.
The Milton Harvest Festival takes place every September. But the weeklong event is about much more than the harvest. It's chock full of fun activities like a parade, pageants and arts and crafts. For those who would rather participate than spectate, there is also a 5K run, a 28-mile bike race, a golf tournament and a spaghetti eating contest. Live music, food vendors, dances and block parties pop up throughout the festival.
Every August, whitewater enthusiasts enjoy a couple days of adrenaline the Lehigh River dam at Weatherly is released. And what better reason to throw a festival? The Lehigh RiverFest is a weekend of paddling, rafting, biking and if you like, paintball. Camping is available, vendors and live entertainment will be onsite.
Although it's a fairly new event, Jakes Witch Project claims to be Northwestern Pennsylvania's "premiere mountain bike festival." The festival takes place amid 20 miles of multi-use trails. Bring your bike, hit the trails and enjoy some good rides, live music, tasty food and cold beverages. There will also be two race events during the festival, one hosted by TrailFlo bike shop and the other by Warren Cycle Shop.
Sponsored by the Conneaut Lake Area Historical Society, Paddlefest takes place every August on the lake of the same name. The main event is a three-mile kayak race. There will also be a series of sprint races for kayak's 12 feet and under during the festival. Family-friendly events and activities will take place shoreside during and after the races.
The Forest City Trail Town Festival takes place every year on the first Saturday in August. In addition to enjoying the wares of food vendors and the sound of music, folks can lace on their running shoes for the Coal Cracker 2-Mile and/or the quarter-marathon that take place during the festival.