The Pennsylvania State Laurel Festival was first devised in 1938 as a way of promoting the town of Wellsboro and the nearby Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. For decades, the festival has been achieving this goal with gusto. A celebration of the town and its natural wonder is achieved with a week’s worth of music, events, races, and parades. Much focus is on the esteemed Laurel Queen Pageant which literally draws contestants from all over Pennsylvania and is extremely prestigious.
The Laurel Festival hosts not one but two races. There is the Laurel Flyer Road race, a 23.6 mile course through some of the most scenic parts of the area surrounding Wellsboro. On Saturday there is a 10K foot race that bisects some rough terrain with gorgeous views. At the festival, a very selective juried arts and crafts fair with some of the finest wares from artists around the region. And food? Oh yes, there is food. International Street of Foods – as it is called – represents various cuisines such as German, Italian, Mexican and even a Mongolian barbeque. Festival favorites such as sausage sandwiches, strawberry shortcake and the ever popular sticky buns are also sold.
The pet parade, which converges on Packer Park, is a very well attended and much beloved event. Pets are judged and awards are presented. But the show stopper is perhaps the PA State Laurel Festival Parade. Extremely popular, this parade displays some of the best high school marching bands in the area as well as antique cars, street dancers, floats made by local businesses and community clubs. The culmination of the parade is the float with the Laurel Queen Contestants. The Laurel Queen Pageant is a marquee event and the coronation of the Laurel Queen is Saturday evening. A quiet non-denominational church service on Sunday marks the end of the festival.
Admission and parking is free.