3 Dots brings a series of block parties to downtown State College
A new series of events this summer hopes to help the State College community take to the streets to connect and support local institutions.
Starting Tuesday, 3 Dots Downtown, a community arts and events space in downtown State College, will shut down part of Pugh Street once a month this summer to host an innovative block party. There, customers can expect live entertainment, retail options from local vendors, and plenty of snacks and treats.
Erica Quinn, executive director of 3 Dots, said Pugh Street Shutdown events are about helping community members connect, celebrate summer, and just enjoy a night on the town.
“We’re really excited to bring people in because they want to grab a beer or people who want to listen to the DJ. Maybe someone who wants to get something from the earring vendor or someone who wants local food,” Quinn said. “People come for various reasons, but they will meet other groups of people. We are thrilled to be hosting this party where there are people meeting and having conversations that might never have had the opportunity to otherwise.
3 Dots’ first Pugh Street stop will run from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28. The event will block off part of South Pugh Street from Calder Way to Beaver Avenue. The Pugh Street parking garage will remain accessible to customers via College Avenue.
At the block party, 3 Dots will host live performances from State College music duo Canary and Opulence, Penn State’s premier drag club ambassador. The event will also feature a beer garden in collaboration with Voodoo Brewing Co. and food from InsideOut Cookie, Classic Cones and Brazilian Munchies.
Tuesday’s block party will tie into the ongoing celebration of Borough Pride Month through a drag-themed flea market. Partnering with State College’s LGBTQ community was an easy decision, Quinn said.
“As a space, we truly are a second home to a lot of the queer community, and we’re a frequent partner with the LGBTQA Support Network Center,” Quinn said. “When we first started imagining having this big month-end party, it felt like a very natural extension of the work we already do every week.”
Justin Dorsey, assistant manager of 3 Dots, said future events will likely be themed around country and punk-rock music in July and August, respectively. The organization is still working out the details for the last block parties of the summer.
The brainstorming for such an event has begun as major COVID-19 concerns have subsided over the past year or so. 3 Dots organizers saw the need for a community event that would encourage engagement when more traditional spaces, including those indoors, were still limited by capacity or safety guidelines. Naturally, they sought to take things outside.
Quinn and Dorsey said the planned Pugh Street stops by 3 Dots are something of a follow-up to the organization’s series of Tuesdays on the Terrace events, which began last summer. In some ways, it’s also a spiritual successor to State College’s stalled Summers on Allen initiative, which once sought to turn the 100 block of South Allen Street into a pedestrian mall for two months in the summer. Summers on Allen was postponed indefinitely at the start of the pandemic, and the program’s Facebook page has not been updated since April 2020.
While community engagement remains 3 Dots’ overriding goal, each Pugh Street closure also hopes to provide accessible entertainment opportunities that everyone can enjoy. Quinn said the 3 Dots team specifically designed the outdoor event to accommodate community members who might not have access to more traditional entertainment options.
“We think a lot about the kinds of architecture that keep people out of spaces where arts and experiences take place, like a columned museum with steps or a large-scale performance space. Those kinds of things can make it hard for people to feel like they can get in,” Quinn said. “We are trying to expand our programming to accommodate street people. We really try to meet people where they are and throw an invitation with live music and a street festival. Everyone knows what to do with it.
While a monthly block party may not do much, Quinn says 3 Dots views the series of events as a stepping stone into a larger initiative to serve the State College community and provide entertainment options for all. .
“There are groups or people who don’t feel like they have the accessibility to an event. Our goal is always to try to reach out into the community as far as possible to actively listen and connect,” Quinn said. “It’s an invitation that will be fun and festive for the community. It is a stage in this much longer process.