By Keith Frederick
amilies looking for a day out. Art lovers. Music lovers. Food lovers. Book lovers. There's something for everyone when the area's premier arts festivals open next week.
A wood carver works during last year’s People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts &?Crafts in Boalsburg.
Mirror file photo by Gary M. Baranec
Bea Mellinger of State College reads the newspaper and watches festival goers pass during last year’s Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts begins with a Children's Day on Wednesday and runs through July 11 throughout downtown State College, while the People's Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts begins on Thursday and will run through July 11 on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg.
The Festival of the Arts is a staple of the Pennsylvania arts scene and will take place for the 44th year in 2010. It averages more than 100,000 visitors a year. This year's festival will feature art by more than 300 exhibitors - though many more tried to get in.
"We got about 900 applicants for the 300 exhibiting spaces," said Rick Bryant, executive director of the festival. "We have a jury of experts that decide (who gets to exhibit). Actually, the same five people will come back next week and decide on prizes."
If you go
What: Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
When: Wednesday (Children's Day) through July 11
Where: Downtown State College
Cost: Free admission to festival; some events require festival button, which can be purchased for $10 throughout the festival area. A children's button may be required for children ages 6 to 12 for some events; children's buttons cost $5 and can be purchased throughout the festival area
What: People's Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts
When: Thursday through July 11
Where: Grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg
Cost: Free admission
Bryant said that the artists come from more than 30 different states.
Part of the reason for the wide area of artists is that the festival has a good reputation.
"It does have a good reputation in the arts community," said Sandi Garris, a State College artist. "There's a book that (lists) the festivals and how they rate and this is always in the top in the nation."
Garris has been exhibiting at the Festival of the Arts for more than 20 years and has won several awards for her work, including an award of merit last year.
For many years, Garris, 54, created colorful, abstract quilts, but she has recently moved on to what she calls "fiber artwork."
"What I do now is dye all my fabric and then I design my work, cut all the pieces apart and then stitch them all back together," she said.
Garris said she exhibits her work around the country each year, traveling as far west as Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago. The Festival of the Arts is a kind of break for her, as she gets to exhibit without traveling.
"It's a good show and I happen to live in the same town as the good show," she said. "I do about 10 shows a year and this is the only one that's local."
But the art isn't the only draw to the festival, Bryant says.
"We're starting something called Bookfest PA, which is a celebration of local authors," he explained. "This will take place in the school library. Authors will talk about their books and there'll be books for sale. It's a chance to meet the author, see how they do, get a book signed and purchase books."
Bookfest will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 10 in Schlow Centre Region Library, 211 S. Allen St.
The event will feature award-winning author Chris McDougall of Lancaster, whose book "Born to Run" has been on the New York Times Bestsellers list for eight months. McDougall will speak at State College Presbyterian Church on Beaver Ave. at 2 p.m., followed by a book signing at Schlow.
Some of the other highlights of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts include:
n Wednesday's Children's Day will feature many musical performances, as well as plays, dancers and a young artist sidewalk sale. Children's workshops and activities will be held on Allen Street and on the Old Main Lawn from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
n The Italian Street Painting Festival will be held throughout the weekend on Heister Street.
For a complete list of events, visit www.arts-festival.com.
n n n
The People's Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception 18 years ago as just 50 artists, a few food booths and volunteer musicians.
"Absolutely," said Diana Stapleford, marketing and sponsorship director. "The festival has grown tremendously over the past few years and over the past few years has maintained its size."
Stapleford said the event now brings in about 95,000 throughout the event's four days.
This year's People's Choice Festival will feature 165 artisans and prides itself on being all-inclusive on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum.
"This is really a family favorite festival in our area," Stapleford said. "It's a very secured (area). You can bring your kids and they can run around and you don't have to worry about them."
The festival has many features for kids.
"We really focus on our youth section," Stapleford said. "We have the Little Smilin' Choo-Choo - kids and adults of all sizes riding the train."
Other events for children include a "Character Day" on July 10, which will feature costumed characters from around the state, headlined by the Pittsburgh Pirate Parrot, as well as a science museum and a 12-foot metal dinosaur sculpture.
But the festival doesn't appeal just to children.
"We have something very new this year," Stapleford said. "We're doing a country night on Friday night and a rock night on Saturday night.
"The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. typically, but the country night and rock night extend the festival an hour longer."
The country night will feature a performance by Joe Bonson and Coffee Run at 7:30 p.m. July 9 on the festival's South Stage, while the rock night is headlined by Hybrid Ice at 7:30 p.m. July 10, also on the South Stage.
Stapleford is also proud of the food at this year's People's Choice Festival
"We have a variety of food vendors, from ribs to crabcakes to fruit to crepes," she said. "It's all over the place - everything delicious.
"We also have a local food growers and food product tent, which houses only local food growers."
Ultimately, Stapleford said, the People's Choice Festival tries to be the smaller, more casual alternative to the Festival of the Arts.
"We have a lot of people tell us that they almost exclusively come to our festival," she said. "It's relaxing. You can buy something for $5 or $5,000.
For a complete list of events at the People's Choice Festival, visit www.peopleschoicefestival.com.
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick can be reached at 946-7466