Punxsutawney: Even Bigger Than Phil

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Academy of Culinary Arts Ice Sculpture 32105D90PF_260px.jpgWill he or won't he? It's a question on everyone's mind on February 2.

We're talking, of course, about Punxsutawney Phil, the world's most famous groundhog, and whether he'll see his shadow at dawn on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney.

With all the fun around Groundhog Day, Phil has put Punxsutawney on the map.

But, there's a lot more to Punxsutawney than Phil.

IUP Punxsutawney, a residential first-year campus with 350 students, will celebrate its 50th birthday this summer. The new $19 million Living-Learning Center houses the academic programs, dining facilities, book store, and fitness facility.

Punxsutawney also is home to IUP's Academy of Culinary of Arts, where about 100 students learn all facets of the culinary arts, including a specialized baking and pastry program, from world-renowned chefs. Our grads go on to internships at five-star restaurants and resorts and are in demand from hospitality providers throughout the country. 

The Fairman Centre is also new, the result of a $1.9 million gift from the Fairman family of Jefferson County and more than $2.4 million in grants and contributions from federal, state, and local agencies. The center, located in the heart of downtown, has allowed for expansion of  culinary classes; residential space for students; and on the first floor, upscale retail facilities.

The campus is committed to service to the Punxsutawney community. Students and faculty regularly volunteer with Rotary International of Punxsutawney; Big Brothers and Sisters; and  the Salvation Army and Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. The commitment is mutual: The Punxsutawney Area College Trust is a longtime supporter of IUP, with gifts from members, including the Fairman family and Elaine Light, which have been critical to the continued success and recent new growth of IUP Punxsutawney.

But don't get us wrong -- we love Groundhog Day. Each year, hundreds of IUP students come out for the festivities, which include students in the academy's Ice Carving Club showcasing their skills in the square. On Wednesday, the academy hosted the annual Groundhog Day Chili and Hot Wing Cook-Off. 

Can't make it to Punxsutawney on Thursday? Celebrate at home by making a batch of groundhog cookies -- a special recipe from Light and her husband, Sam, former president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. Don't forget to use your groundhog cookie cutters,  available from the Punxsutawney Phil's Official Souvenir Shop.

Whether you see your shadow or not, come out and celebrate. You'll certainly see more to enjoy in this community than just its world-renowned weather forecaster.

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This is a phun story!

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This page contains a single entry by Michelle Fryling published on January 31, 2012 2:00 PM.

Ohio University Endowed Research Chair Named for IUP Alumnus, Inventor Kopchick '72, M'75 was the previous entry in this blog.

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