Interview with Ed Stoddard

Marketing Director of Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau

Piper Blue McGonigle, Staff Writer

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I met with Ed at Standing Stone Coffee Company on his suggestion. He is a big fan of Standing Stone, saying that a close coffee shop was actually on his list of reasons to move to Huntingdon. He also appreciates the coffee shop, which he refers to as his “second office” because it is a “great place for business meetings,” plus, Standing Stone displays student artwork from his daughter’s school district.

Ed has lived in Huntingdon for ten years. Before moving here from State College, Ed thought of Huntingdon as his “backyard playground,” a place he enjoyed visiting for recreational activities like “hiking, backpacking, and fishing.” In 2008, Ed’s job as the Marketing Director of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau brought him to the borough. Since then he has been excited to help others discover and enjoy the Raystown Lake region.

Since moving to the borough, he has been involved in many organizations in the area. Aside from his job with the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, Ed loves volunteering for Mayfest, Huntingdon’s 250th celebration, Boomtown, Standing Stone Trail Club, and being involved with the Historical Society. He says that he “really likes volunteering in the community, being part of the community, and being involved.” For Ed, being involved in these organizations contributes to the way he thinks of Huntingdon: “classic small-town USA” where “people are friendly” and help each other.

When asked whether he’s ever considered moving away from Huntingdon, he replied “not really.” Aside from a joke that his “yard’s not very big,” Ed says he really likes living in Huntingdon because, among other things, “it’s close to where I do a lot of business. Huntingdon is the economic center and county seat of Huntingdon County, so a lot of meetings happen around town” and he likes to be close to where he does business. One of his favorite things to do is walk around town. “As a family we often walk in the evenings and we like going from place to place and visiting the cats that a lot of store owners have.”

Ed also praises the small town “neighborliness” of Huntingdon. He loves to walk around and “see people you know and say hi to folks.” This small-town vibe is part of the reason that Ed says he feels safe in Huntingdon, and there are no areas he avoids. He also has an eleven-year-old daughter and he likes that it is safe for her to “walk around the block and visit friends in the area.” According to Ed, Huntingdon is a great community for his family. In fact, his daughter is also involved in the community, attending the Huntingdon school, taking classes at the dance academy, and joining Ed at Mayfest every year. “She meets people at different events and hands out visitors guides with me.”

When asked about his favorite things about living in Huntingdon, Ed’s passion for history shone through. He was full of stories about the town’s history, (even an explanation of those tiny houses that are scattered throughout Huntingdon, which I learned were built for the towns 100th and 250th anniversaries). When “talking to visitors about downtown Huntingdon,” Ed tells them that “to really appreciate it you have to look up. In 5 blocks you can see 6 different kinds of architecture!” Aside from the architectural and historical enjoyment Ed derives from Huntingdon, he also appreciates that it is a “very walkable town,” and likes to go window shopping.

When asked about the college relations to the town and community over the ten years he has been here, Ed says that “it has only gotten better and continued to evolve. The college is absolutely reaching out to the community and vice versa.” He was full of praise for the I4I program, which he works with closely, and the Juniata students he’s met over the years. “I like working with students [in the I4I program] because they bring good, fresh ideas to the table, and candid conversations. I love the positive energy that surrounds the college—that energy permeates all the interactions that I see with students and staff…from the I4I program students, to the sports programs, to the staff members that sit on local committees helping out with projects that help the area succeed.” He appreciates the accessibility to facilities that the college brings, like conference rooms, concerts and events, and passionate people. He says “we are so lucky to have the college here. You can see resources filtering down not only to businesses but to the community itself.” For people like Ed, Juniata is not just the college on the hill anymore. As he says, “there’s no walls between us here.”

We also talked about Ed’s vision for Huntingdon’s future. He used the word “poised,” saying, “poised is a word I have used a lot in the last year and a half. We are poised and ready for something very, very good that is happening in town. I think that historic Huntingdon will continue to evolve as a walkable, charming community that will always respect its historical significance. (The paper tablet was invented here! The Blair Building used to be the tallest “skyscraper” between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia back in the day. Mark Twain wrote JC Blair a thank you note for inventing the tablet.)”

I asked Ed why he was so willing to go out of his way to talk to me about his community. He answered, “I feel strongly about our small towns throughout the county. There’s good folks here who will smile at you and look you in the eye. A handshake means something here, which is a big deal. If someone says they’re gonna do something they’re gonna do it. And there’s so many people willing to get involved and work hard to make the community a better place.”

After our conversation, I was inspired to agree with him that “it’s a cool time to live in Huntingdon.” Ed seems like a citizen of Huntingdon who is very invested in, and positive about, the future of Huntingdon, its ties with Juniata College, and the people who live here.