If a vegetarian had to choose between the simultaneously running Central Pennsylvania Festivals of the Arts (CPFA) in downtown State College/ Penn State Campus and The People’s Choice in Boalsburg it would have to be the latter.
Food choices are much more diverse at the smaller People’s Choice (my review in is part 2) which is held annually at the Boalsburg Military Museum. Although the food court organizer, Rick Snyder, makes sure there are plenty of Snyder’s and Packer’s concessions, you can find everything from the local Prospector’s restaurant to a quaint crêpe stand. Downtown State College food concessions are dominated by Simon’s Concessions out of Pittsburgh and on campus there is but one stand of PSU Creamery ice cream. A review of CPFA food by Joshua Glossner was printed Monday in the Daily Collegian but I will focus below on what a vegetarian can expect.
Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
Be aware the food venders at CPFA have next to nothing for vegetarians on the southern most stretch of the festival!
I am going to totally ignore reviewing the couple of food stands whose only vegetarian options were beverages. I will note that those stands are the only 2 on Fraser St. so don’t plan on finding anything to eat while walking that section of the festival – it’s also most residential with no restaurants to pop into.
The nearest oasis to that section is the Sidney Freedman Parklet which has very little to choose from, Hanson’s Kettle Korn (in soy oil) and shaved ice.
The next closest and farthest food option at Nittany & Allen St. would be one of the Simon’s Concessions stand run by Nick the Greek. On Wednesday, Children’s Day the advertised a Greek/Mediterranean Salad by photo and signage. When I asked the price of the salad I was told they didn’t have any that day. I pointed out that it was the only vegetarian option being advertised multiple places in front of their booth a man of Mediterranean descent (Nick the Greek!?) became defensive and gave the excuse that all of their food is made fresh. He also told me since I was a vegetarian I could eat the Lobster Burger – what a joke! I returned on Thursday to see a 2′ wide bowl of salad piled high sitting in the open. By 1PM it looks like the second bowl of it had been served down to the dregs with many of the different ingredients missing from the bowl all together.
Across from the municipal building near Foster and Allen St. is another Simon’s owner stand. This one has Pierogies and Haluski (can you tell they are from Pittsburgh!) but be aware they cook their chicken fingers with their french fried potatoes.
Strolling toward the center of town, just about the time the food venders have to compete with the local restaurants, there are a few more choices. At Allen & Highland, on the East side of Allen St is Chan’s Golden Gate also of Pittsburgh and I have my suspicions that they are related to Simon’s Concessions too. Their French Fries are cooked in a separate oil cooker than their chicken fingers (I would ask in case that has changed) and the Vegetable Lo Mein and Vegetable Fried Rice were not cooked with nor along side of any meat products.
Don’t choke down those dry old lo mein noodles before you cross the street to check out the real gem for grab and go food at this festival! At Allen & Highland, on the West side of Allen St. walk just behind the art booths to see that Cozy Thai Bistro has set up a stand outside their restaurant! Vegetarians can choose from Papaya Salad, Tofu Red Curry (no fish sauce), Spring Rolls or Fried Tofu both with dipping sauces. These folks know what they are doing and have a full vegetarian menu inside. Some of their curries do have fish sauce but they have always been really honest as to which ones do. I say this is the place to grab some street food to enjoy while walking around CPFA. We later returned and did a food review that you can read here.
One last food stand in town, which is not recognized in the official program for some reason, is at the corner of College & Allen just before the festival crosses onto campus. Helmut’s Strudel stand has been there for years. Although they no longer have the Broccoli Cheese Strudel I remember from a few years ago, they do have Apple, Cherry, Cheese and Apricot- Almond. They also have BananaBerry and Strawberry Smoothies.
On Penn State Campus, just behind the obelisk near Willard Building is the booth set to to sell Penn State Creamery Ice Cream. I took a good portion of time on Thursday to make a trip to Berkey Creamery to question them about which of their ice creams might not be vegetarian. I pointed out that some of their yogurts are not and the ones that are have labels noting they are vegetarian. Although the young lady I spoke to didn’t know what made something vegetarian or not, she obligingly handed me a 3″ thick binder with every Creamery Ice Cream flavor and ingredients list. I read through them as carefully as I could spending extra time on those flavors like marshmallow which almost always have gelatin in them and I could come up with nothing. Carageean is the gelling agent of choice in everything I read.
On to The People’s Choice Arts Festival to clarify which of the seemingly veggie options aren’t a good choice of the people.