Attracting more than 170,000 art enthusiasts to its events in 2011, the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival showcases original work from hundreds of artisans showcasing everything from handcrafted pottery, sculpture, and metalwork to jewelry, fashion, décor, and photography. Audiences can witness art being made live during educational demonstrations as artisans sculpt clay, whittle wood, forge metals, and imbue baskets with the power of speech. Hungry crafters can also sniff out specialty food items to sample or purchase while dancing across the sprawling venue to live music.
Marsh Creek Lake, lined with verdant shores and rolling hills, bobs with fishing boats, kayaks, sailboats, and windsurfing boards. About 535 acres of azure waters bejewel the surrounding 1,705 acres of hiking trails and picnic areas. Throughout the day, Marsh Creek Watersports leads one-hour pontoon-boat excursions that take guests through a history lesson of the park and surrounding region, leaving time for peaceful moments spent gazing at the natural wildlife. During the summer months, Marsh Creek also hosts kids' sailing camps to acquaint young ones with the techniques and safe practices of aquatic navigation, such as defending against Peter Pan attacks.
The Challenge Family Fun Center regales children and adults alike with a dizzying array of fun-filled games. Perfect backswings on a 22-hole miniature golf course, whose diminutive fairways are lined with blooming flowers and peppered with water hazards such as fountains and a bubbling stream (children 12 and younger $5.50; adults $7). Batters can step up to the plate to improve technique, hone reflexes, and practice telling the difference between slow-pitch softballs, high-speed hardballs, and dive-bombing pigeons in the batting cages ($2.50/round). The Fun Center’s arcade invites competition with skee-ball, air hockey, and a lineup of video games, and fortified duckpin lanes inflate with optional gutter bumpers to thwart the escape plans of crooked bowling balls ($3.50/game).
In addition to keeping guests safe by maintaining range rules, the staff also leads classes—including the NRA First Steps Pistol Orientation and Handgun Qualification License Course—teaching students firearm basics such as how to aim or clean a handgun. The range also connects to a pro shop, where a gunsmith repairs and customizes arms.
Going against convention, the staff of Skydive Collegeville prioritize first-time jumpers over established divers. That's because their main focus is giving novices the best possible introduction to the sport, providing a laid-back atmosphere free from pressure or intimidation. During introductory lessons, their male and female certified tandem instructors walk clients through the basics of their jump on land before taking to the sky. Once they're harnessed into their parachute, the student and teacher duo both leap out of a plane for an exhilarating tandem free-fall, achieving speeds of up to 120 mph before leisurely drifting back to earth over suburban Collegeville. Guests can also request a record of their descent, which can be filmed with a camera on the instructor's wrist or captured by a videographer who skydives while simultaneously sitting in a director's chair.