Enjoy ‘Holiday in the Wilds’ at Kinzua Bridge State Park on December 1
By Jason Burt
Shopping for gifts during the holiday season can be a stressful experience, so why not make the next holiday shopping outing as pleasant as possible?
Kinzua Experience views are not only beautiful, but relaxing in any season. It’s just this type of environment which could make for a less stressful holiday shopping experience.
If this sounds appealing, then the Holiday in the Wilds event – set for Saturday, Dec. 1, at Kinzua Bridge State Park – is the event for you.
Hosted by the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, the event will feature several juried artisans who are members of the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They will have their handcrafted art available for purchase, and a local vendor will also be offering handmade holiday treats. Guests can also visit the PA Wilds Conservation Shop at the park for other holiday gift ideas (and take a peek of the valley below from the skywalk).
Featured artisans include:
- Amanda Lewis from Petal, who sculpts lifelike leafs, flowers and berries in cold porcelain and turns them into wearable works of art.
- Teresa Genaux of Alpaca Creations, who hand knits apparel and specialty items with hand dyed and spun yarns all from Alpaca, including items such as hats, mittens and scarves.
- Kevin and Mary Abbott from Jabebo Earrings, a company based out of Bellefonte that specializes in making earrings that depict nature from post-consumer paperboard.
- The Smith family of Palace Apiary in Emporium offers award-winning local raw honey from treatment-free bees.
- Peggy Houser of Beads in the Forest, who uses seed beads, semi-precious stones, and natural materials to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.
- Tara Heckler of Blackberry & Sage Market in Punxsutawney, who creates organic, reusable, eco-friendly and compostable products for the home and body, from many sources, including beeswax, herbs and fiber among others.
- The Magaro family of Rich Valley Apiary in Emporium harvests raw honey and produces beeswax candles, homemade soaps, lotions and lip balms from their organically raised bees.
- Little Sister’s Big Rig will be selling baked goods, chef-made soups, hot cocoa and coffee.
- Straub Brewery, Inc. has produced impeccable brews in St. Marys for generations, preserving tradition, taste and quality of its lagers.
REASONS TO SHOP LOCAL (AND COME TO HOLIDAY IN THE WILDS!)
What gifts one buys this holiday season may not matter as much as the impact that gift can leave on your own community.
Buying local really does matter as shown by the rise of Small Business Saturday. First observed in the United States in 2010, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to buy from brick and mortar businesses that are small and local – counter to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which largely focus on big box retail and e-commerce stores.
1. Money spent at local businesses generate 3.5 times more for the local economy compared to that spent at chain-owned businesses.
The PA Wilds Conservation Shop encourages the sale of merchandise from local artisans for many reasons, and this is at the top of the list.
According to a survey produced by several agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, local businesses produce 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big box retailers, and $68 of a $100 purchase at an independent business stays in the local community as opposed to $48 if the same amount is spent at a big box retailer.
“If every family in the U.S. spent an extra $10 a month at a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy,” the survey found.
2. Shopping local can also reduce your energy footprint.
International shipping and transport is bad on the environment because it results in 11 billion gallons of fuel used per year internationally and 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, which results in 25 percent of the carbon dioxide production in most nations.
Industrial pollution is responsible for almost half of the pollution present in the U.S., but local, independent makers cut down on processing, packaging and transportation waste and are much more likely to reuse materials, according to the survey.
3. The right setting can help one relax.
While you’re reducing your energy footprint, why not reduce the stress of shopping by picking a relaxing environment for shopping like Kinzua Bridge State Park?
Spending time in the great outdoors has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, and you can’t get more outdoors than Kinzua Bridge State Park, which is located off the beaten path and surrounded by state game lands.
One of the ways being outdoors reduces stress is by just getting a dose of sunlight, which provides vitamin D that lowers blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. Sunlight also helps regulate the body’s melatonin production, which the right amount can ensure a good night’s sleep, allowing one to feel rejuvenated upon waking.
Fresh air alone also improves blood pressure because the body has to work harder to get the oxygen it needs in polluted or indoor environments, raising one’s heart rate and blood pressure. The fresh air of the outdoors also encourages slow, deep breathing, which calms us down. Research shows that breathing techniques can dampen the production of stress hormones and train the body’s reaction to stressful situations. Levels of oxygen in the brain are tied to levels of serotonin – the neurotransmitter that affects mood – so breathing fresh air can help regulate serotonin levels and promote happiness and well-being.
Many a traveler to Kinzua Bridge State Park has found their electronic devices losing service once at the park, which can also be another one of nature’s stress reducers. A University of California, Irvine study found that people with email access and a steady stream of messages throughout the day had higher heart rates than those lacking access to electronic communication.
Such an environment can also help center one’s mind. A study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found a natural environment helped people leave the stress of their everyday lives behind and focus their minds on something purer.
This is yet another reason to shop at the Holiday in the Wilds event as many people are not aware that Kinzua Bridge State Park is even open in the colder months, meaning many people miss out on the beauty of a scenic winter view of the skywalk.
So take a drive on Scenic Route 6 (or dash through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh) to Kinzua Bridge State Park on Dec. 1 to shop local, in a relaxing setting, during the Holiday in the Wilds event.
Yule love it!
About the Author: Born and raised in the PA Wilds, Jason Burt has lived in Marvindale, McKean County, all his life — just about a hill climb away from Kinzua Bridge State Park. There, Jason has the outdoors in his backyard, where he has hunted, fished and observed all varieties of wildlife from deer to turkeys to bear to eagles to fox to coyote. Graduating Salutatorian from Smethport Area High School in 2001, he attended Lycoming College in Williamsport. After graduating cum laude with a degree in English/Creative Writing in 2005, Jason worked several years at The Bradford Era newspaper. As a reporter and then News Editor, he learned even more about this PA Wilds area as the paper covered local news in Cameron, Elk, McKean and Potter counties. Jason now serves as a Customer Service Representative at the PA Wilds Conservation Shop at Kinzua Bridge State Park.