It’s about that time during the summer when the buzz of Netflix day-longs has faded and the anticipation of football season has begun. And here to mark the half-way point of our summer vacation and ease some of our mid-break boredom is the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, or as we fondly refer to it, Arts Fest.
Celebrating its 45th year as a State College and Central Pennsylvania summer staple, this year’s Arts Fest promises to fuse old favorites with new vendors and fresh entertainment.
“People will see artists they’ve seen before because this is an event vendors apply for over and over after being so successful the year prior,” says Arts Fest Executive Director Rick Bryant. “Some of the performers will seem familiar, as well, because we have such a great music scene here in Central Pennsylvania. The general footprint of the event will be the same, but the details will be different.”
Among the exciting additions to the festival’s lineup are a series of silent films, standup comedians, dancers, live musicals, and, of course, it wouldn’t be Arts Fest if it weren’t for the numerous live musical performances that take place on each of the event’s three outdoor stages.
“Trust me, live music is way better than whatever comes out of your ear buds,” says Bryant. “It’s the real deal. The music we have is from performers of international, national and regional stature. It appeals to a wide range of tastes.”
While admission to indoor concerts is included in the purchase price of a festival button ($10), you can enjoy the outdoor performances free of charge.
BookFest, a more recent addition to the Arts Fest scene located at Schlow Centre Region Library, will also be stepping up its game this year, says Bryant. Calling all geek-chic or just plain geeky ladies and gents – this year’s BookFest will feature comics, or – if you’re feeling technical – sequential art, welcoming artists who have worked for DC and Marvel, as well as independent artists.
Arts Fest is a five day event, starting on Wednesday, July 8th and running until Sunday, July 12th with an estimated attendance of about 125,000 guests. But, get this – only 35 percent of those attendees are from Centre County, which means the event largely relies on outside visitors and, drumroll please, Penn State students and alumni. Can we get a “We Are”?
“Lots of college students walk around and see some things and check out some music,” says Bryant. “Often what they do is mostly socialize with each other, which is okay, but we would like them to see what we do, too.”
One of the best parts about Arts Fest is having the opportunity to see old friends and reclaim our old stomping grounds (We’re already counting down the days until we get to sip on a sweet, sweet Joe Papaya smoothie). But according to Bryant, enjoying the novelty of the festival makes for the best memories.
“It’s a good time to be in State College without having homework to do,” he says. “Get a bite to eat, check out some music, enjoy friends and art at the same time. I recommend people try something new – old, familiar places are going to be quite crowded, so you have to be flexible.”
So, where should you go if the wait at the Corner Room is pushing an hour?
“I would get some great festival food,” says Bryant. “The one thing we have here is chicken on a stick.”
If there’s one nugget (pun totally intended) of information you’ve absorbed while reading this article: Chicken on a stick.
‘Like’ Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts on Facebook and follow @CPArtsFestival on Twitter and Instagram for updates. You can also access the mobile-friendly website here, or reference their app for the event schedule throughout the weekend.
Happy Arts Fest!