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It's Blair County Arts Festival Time Again!
May 18, 2007 - Jim Price
It’s that time of year again! One of Spring’s milestones in our part of the world, the 40th annual Blair County Arts Festival, takes place this Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20, at Penn State Altoona. Admission is free.
For the live music connoisseur, there is plenty to see and hear during the Festival’s two days, offering something for nearly every taste.
Logically, let’s begin with Saturday. If jazz is your preferred flavor, State College’s Billy Test Trio will perform at the Performance Pavilion beginning at 3 PM; followed by another Happy Valley-based group, the Summit City Saints, performing two shows of Dixieland jazz, ragtime and blues sounds at 3:45 and 5 PM in the Food Court. Celebrate young jazz performers at 4:15, when the Altoona Area High School Advanced Jazz Band performs in the Performance Pavilion. And the 28th Infantry Division National Guard Jazz Band will perform on the Slep Center Portico by the Reflecting Pond starting at 6 PM.
If your tastes run more towards Celtic music, Saturday has two treats for you. Full Kilt, a local-based Celtic rock band, will light up the Entertainment Tent beginning at 3:45 PM. And that mischievous and rollicking acoustic duo, The Michael O’Brian Band, will perform their blend of Irish pub songs and Celtic folk in the Entertainment Tent starting at 5 PM.
Fans of folk sounds can enjoy the return of two Arts Festival favorites, Jay Smar and Jerry Haines. These two will perform traditional acoustic folk sounds together for three performances in the Food Court at 1:15, 2:30 and 6 PM. Jay will perform on fiddle near the Entertainment Tent beginning at 3:15, while Jerry will do a solo performance on guitar near the Entertainment Tent beginning at 4:30.
Jersey City, New Jersey’s most popular export to the Altoona area, Blue Number Nine, will bring their fresh and uplifting blend of soul, pop, rock and jazz back to this year’s Arts Festival beginning at 7 PM in the Performance Pavilion. If you have never seen Blue Number Nine, you owe yourself the treat!
For vintage rock’n’roll fans, local favorites Your Dad’s Friends will celebrate rock’n’roll of the late 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s at the Performance Pavilion at 8:15 PM.
And for fans of vocal music, The Altoona Area High School Vocal Ensemble entertains in the Performance Pavilion at 1:45, and The Blair Concert Chorale performs at the Entertainment Tent at 2:30 PM.
Sunday has an impressive slate of musical talent as well. For blues and blues-rock fans, Anthony Stauffer and Holy Smoke from State College will smoke the Entertainment Tent starting at 4:45 PM.
For fans of folk and traditional music, Sunday will be a busy day. Holding over from Saturday, Jay Smar and Jerry Haines will again be performing their traditional folk sounds; they’ll play together in the Smith Building beginning at 12:45, and in the Food Court at 3:45 PM. Jerry performs solo in the Food Court at 2:15, while Jay plays at the Entertainment Tent at the same time.
But that’s not all…Williamsport’s Banjo Man, Jim Haner, will strum his banjo, play old-timey folk songs and tell interesting stories along the way starting at 12 noon near the Entertainment Tent and at 3 PM in the Food Court. Jim may even play some old-time radio commercial jingles for household and farm products of yore.
And at 12:45 PM, Three Generations On Strings will perform in the Entertainment Tent. From Roaring Spring, Three Generations is exactly that; featuring Tyne Replogle on banjo, guitar and vocals; her mother, Teia, on upright bass; and her grandmother, Erma, on autoharp. Performing together for almost 14 years, Three Generations On Strings plays a blend of traditional bluegrass and folk music along with some more contemporary songs, as well as a few original compositions.
School bands will take the spotlight several times during the day. The Roosevelt Junior High Jazz Band kicks things off at the Performance Pavilion at high noon. The Roosevelt and Keith Junior High Strings follow in the Performance Pavilion at 1:15 PM. The Altoona Area High School Marching Band will parade around Penn State Altoona’s Reflecting Pond beginning at 2, and will perform on the Slep Student Center Portico in front of the Pond starting at 3 PM. At 3:45, the Keith Junior High Jazz Band and Altoona Elementary Stage Band entertain in the Performance Pavilion. And the Hollidaysburg Area Senior High Mainstream Jazz Band closes out the Performance Pavilion with a performance starting at 5 PM.
And for barbershop quartet fans, the Holliday Harmonizers give two performances in the Food Court, at 4:30 and 5:45 PM.
Of course, be sure to check out the various art exhibits, enjoy the smorgasbord of food delights at the Food Court, and, if you have a few spare moments and an open bench appears before you, take a load off and sit by the Reflecting Pond and enjoy the ducks, bluegills and carp.
The weather forecast looks favorable and seasonable for both days, with temperatures reaching the 60’s, and only a small chance of rain.The Festival hours are 12 noon to 9 PM on Saturday, and 12 noon to 6 PM on Sunday. Admission to the Blair County Arts Festival is free. There is a fee to park at the Festival; the parking fees help fund the festival, its entertainment and activities. All-day parking passes can be purchased at both Penn State Altoona entrances for $4.