Located just one hour east of Pittsburgh, Indiana County is a vibrant area that boasts the luxuries of a large city with the close-knit charm of a small town.
The county is best known as the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World” and hometown of beloved Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart. It is the legacy of Mr. Stewart that continues to appeal to a worldwide audience and what brings tourists from all over the world to Indiana County to visit the Jimmy Stewart Museum.
“Quality of life plays an important role in attracting both tourists and businesses. Our level of outdoor recreation, family-oriented events, live entertainment, fine arts, historical and cultural roots, as well as special sporting events, rival those you find in larger cities. It’s all this and the friendly communities throughout Indiana County that makes living here a wonderful life,” said Denise Liggett, Executive Director of the Indiana County Tourist Bureau.
The Jimmy Stewart Museum is one of the many attractions the Indiana County Tourist Bureau works to promote in order to encourage tourism to the area. The mission of the Indiana County Tourist Bureau is to support the growth of Indiana County’s tourism presence through continued promotion and marketing of its members and the region. This is achieved primarily through advertising and attending tourism tradeshows. Local events and attractions are promoted in print ads and articles featured in publications, as well as social media that target audiences throughout Pennsylvania and the nation.
Another way of supporting the growth of Indiana County is by bringing attention to the many positive “quality of life” factors that make the area attractive to new residents and businesses. “Quality of life” is a major topic of discussion when marketing an area to new businesses and a key element in what attracts them to invest in a business presence in Indiana County. “Quality of life” takes into account a variety of factors, including the economic, medical, academic and recreational opportunities available to the population.
Indiana County has many positive factors to offer new businesses, residents and tourists. It is home to 2,700 acres of parks, natural areas, historic sites and an extensive regional trail system. There are many opportunities for outdoor adventures such as boating, fishing, hunting and 64 miles of rails-to-trails for hiking and biking. It is home to Indiana University of Pennsylvania with 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in more than 130 undergraduate and 60 graduate degree programs.
There is also Indiana Regional Medical Center (IRMC), a first-class hospital that provides care for the health and well-being of the Indiana County community and beyond. IRMC is one of only 11 remaining independent hospitals with more than 100 beds in Pennsylvania.
Indiana County is host to many events and attractions in our state-of-the-art facilities for large conventions and meetings that draw groups of all sizes. The county is equipped with the amenities to host various sporting events and accommodate hundreds of athletes, families and coaches. For example, in June, the county hosts the Indiana County Summer Showcase Tournament. This annual event is not only a tournament but also a popular softball recruiting event. Young college-bound softball athletes have an opportunity to showcase their skills for college coaches from across the U.S. and Canada, as they compete for scholarships.
The completion of the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex (KCAC), located on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) campus, in 2011 opened a new market for Indiana County. The KCAC features 148,000 square feet of meeting, theater, arena and exhibition space. Directly adjacent to the KCAC is the new Hilton Garden Inn at IUP which features 128 guest rooms and a full-service restaurant and lounge. Together, these facilities are building a strong foundation for hosting annual conferences and conventions that help to establish a consistent source of revenue for Indiana County.
Downtown Indiana, a nonprofit organization that promotes Indiana’s traditional downtown business district, is gearing up for the five-weekend First Commonwealth Bank It’s A Wonderful Life Festival which runs November 17 – December 16.
Its centerpiece, a 30-foot live Christmas tree (grown right here in the Christmas Tree Capital of the World), is lit during the Lucy Donnelly Holiday Parade on November 16. The parade, a holiday tradition for the past 20+ years, draws thousands to the streets of Jimmy Stewart’s hometown. In addition to the floats and marching units, parade night features marshmallow roasting, hayrides, hot chocolate, crafts and of course, Santa’s arrival.
The First Commonwealth Bank It’s a Wonderful Life Festival brings Santa to IRMC Park each Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., as well as musical entertainment and the opportunity to purchase holiday treats from local nonprofits. Visitors also will enjoy dining and shopping in our historic, walkable downtown. As evening draws near, don’t miss the Christmas light displays throughout Indiana’s downtown.
On Sundays during the festival, families can enjoy Merry Matinees at the Indiana Theater as Downtown Indiana presents five favorite holiday classics.
The Jimmy Stewart Museum is another must-see on any holiday trip to Indiana. In addition to the exhibits chronicling the legendary actor’s life and career, the Museum will show “It’s a Wonderful Life” every day at 1 p.m. from November 17 – December 30. Join us during the holiday season and be a part of the wonderful life in Indiana, Pa! Details for the First Commonwealth Bank It’s a Wonderful Life Festival can be found at wonderfullifefestival.com.Read more about Indiana County here.