PennWest Clarion invites the community to celebrate Autumn Leaf Festival and Homecoming at various events beginning Oct. 2.


Leading up to homecoming is Cultural Nights, a four-day legacy community event in its 28th year. This year’s celebration will feature daily entertainment at 7 p.m. in front of Clarion County Courthouse.

Oct. 2: Simple Gifts – Linda Littleton and Karen Hirshon perform on 12 instruments including fiddle, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, guitar, banjo, and recorder, plus some lesser-known instruments like the bowed psaltery, banjolin,shruti box and doumbek. They play a range of ethnic music including Romanian, Bulgarian, Klezmer, Irish, Scottish, French, American, Greek, Finnish and more.The duo – often accompanied by a third member, Rachel Hall – has released six CDs, two of which have won national awards.

Oct. 3: The Tamburitzans – The ensemble has expanded its repertoire throughout the past eight decades to include a wide variety of folk dance and music representing international cultures. The Tamburitzans' show is an annual tradition for some, and a delightful new surprise for others, dazzling audiences with elaborate costumes and versatile musicians, singers and dances. The talented young performers are full-time students who continue the Tamburitzans' legacy by bringing international cultures to the modern stage.

Oct. 4: Mitch Littler – Synonymous with great entertainment and high-energy, driving performances, Littler is a rocker whose musical roots are planted in the soul of the old folk and blues masters of the past. The singer, guitar player and harmonica player started playing with his family's bluegrass band at 14. He is a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in philosophy, but before college, he spent three years as a full-time traveling blues entertainer performing at venues and festivals across several states. 

Oct. 5: Pep rally, followed by Human Spotify John Rush – The one-man show takes audiences on a musical journey. He plays original music and songs you know, performing with a loop machine that allows him to record a guitar loop on the fly, then play lead, bass, harmonica, piano and percussion over it. Wowing audiences with his guitar work and capturing them with his voice and lyrics, Rush won Campus Entertainer of the Year and Campus Awards Musician of the Year. Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, Rush learned to play guitar at age 12, then attended the University of Georgia on a classical guitar scholarship. He has more than 85 hours of music memorized that he can play upon request.

Dr. Laurie Bernotsky, interim president of PennWest, and the campus leadership team invite all Clarion students to the President’s Homecoming Bash from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, outside between Becht Hall and the library. Join your fellow Golden Eagles and administration for food, music, activities. Learn more about the offices and services PennWest provides to help our students succeed.‍

In addition to PennWest Clarion and its University Activities Board, community sponsors of Cultural Nights include Allegheny Toyota, Farmers National Bank, Modern Living Solutions and Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry.

The Autumn Leaf Festival continues through Oct. 8 with a variety of events celebrating the beauty, culture and heritage of the Clarion region.

New this year, PennWest’s Clarion International Students Association will host a comfort station Oct. 6-8 on the lawn by the courthouse. The station will provide a place for mothers to breastfeed and parents to change diapers. Butler Health Women’s Care Associates of Clarion will provide diapers, wipes and liners. PennWest Clarion student organizations will staff the comfort station.

Homecoming Weekend festivities begin with the Oct. 6 dedication of John S. Shropshire Hall. The former Egbert Hall has been fully renovated and refurbished as the PennWest Clarion Admissions Welcome Center. Featuring state-of-the-art furnishings and staffed by a full admissions team, John S. Shropshire Hall reflects its namesake’s belief that by keeping students in the center of all we do, we will end up in the right place. Shropshire ’61, former dean of Admissions, devoted his life and work to serving students. The first Black dean at Clarion, Shropshire advocated for equality, and he knew that education was essential in that quest.

The Independence Health Systems/Clarion ­­­­HospitalTournament of Leaves Parade and game day are Oct. 7. The day will begin with Eggs with Ernie for alumni, family and friends from 10 a.m. to noon in the Hart Chapel parking lot. Gather with family and friends for breakfast bites with Golden Eagles mascot Ernie, along with family-friendly activities, information tables from various areas of campus, and more. Commemorative 2023 Homecoming pins will be available.

The parade, one of Clarion’s longest-standing traditions, gets underway at noon along Main Street.

At 2 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, the Golden Eagles football team will go head-to-head with the Griffins of Seton Hill. PennWest Clarion students, faculty and staff are admitted free with valid Clarion ID. Other admission prices, paid at the gate, are: adults, $10; youth ages 6-18, $5; children under age 6, free; non-Clarion students with college ID, $5. Parking is $5. Homecoming royalty will be crowned at halftime.