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Mike the Mailman's Arts Festival Tour

by on July 07, 2010 7:55 AM

Hi, everyone! Can you remember what you did one weekend back in the summer of 1966? Can you believe that I can?

I came up to State College from Lock Haven with a friend of mine to check out the first arts festival that was held here. I can't remember the name of it, but I do remember that several artists had their artwork displayed on wires against a fence that lined College Avenue. This year marks the 44th annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

In the past 44 years, arts fest has turned into quite an event. From its beginning, where any artist could enter and sell their artwork, to now, where artists have to be juried in because of the high interest, every year offers great artwork. This event is ranked in the top ten of arts festivals around the country.

I'd like to take this time to point out some of the less obvious fun things to do besides shop the streets and admire all of the created works of art.

Today kicks off the arts festival with Children and Youth Day. Today, children sell their created pieces of art, jewelry and other fun knick-knacks. I like that Shaver's Creek has some animals and facts about the wildlife in our area for kids to learn about. Also, on this day, there are several performances catered to children, as well as kids themselves performing.

Onto this Thursday through Sunday. Besides the booths that display everything from the classic water-painted masterpieces to silverware melted into unique sculptures by artists from all across the country, if you find yourself on Allen Street (which I highly recommend as your starting point), I have several suggestions.

Start at the beginning of this street, where Allen Street intersects with College Avenue. After you try some delicious food that is usually set up right there, look up. Every year there is a banner contest that has three categories: professional, general, and youth. This year's winners are the first row of banners displayed hanging above you. Throughout the festival route, more than 100 banners of past years' submissions and winners are on display and all of them are so amazing and creative to look at. Also on Allen Street is one of the stages where there will almost always be someone performing. As you walk up the street towards Beaver Ave, if you need to cool down, run through the always refreshing overhead sprinkler, which kind of drenches you with buckets full of water!

I suggest getting off the festival's path at Sidney Friedman Park, where throughout the festival a sand sculpture is being built and usually finished halfway through the weekend. I think it's fun to visit during the process and then re-visit once it is completed.

After walking through downtown, venture up to campus where right across from me at the HUB, there are several events, including artwork on display. One of my favorite things to do on campus during the Arts Festivals is visit Davey Lab between 8:30-11:30 p.m. for Astrofest. Here, you can learn about our solar system and attend 3D presentations, or my favorite, be a guest at the Star Gazing Party, where you can look through rooftop telescopes. I saw Jupiter one year!

Once you have walked around town and visited the campus activities, I suggest that you venture to Boalsburg, where they host the People's Choice Festival. This is an arts festival that celebrates all local (Pennsylvania residents) artists. It is held on the ground of the Military Museum, right off of South Atherton Street/Business 322 West. My wife and I enjoy attending this as it is right in our backyard! We love looking (and she loves buying things for our home) and we finish off our day with some delicious food there.

One serious Arts Fest tradition we have to be a part of is Cartoon's concert. This band, who has played in local bars and other venues here, is celebrating three decades this summer, and always returns to Arts Fest for a "reunion" concert. I can't wait to be in the audience for their performance.

On Sunday morning, the 35th annual Sue Crowe Memorial Run (10K and 5K) takes place, and the route combines State College and campus streets. I'm hoping someday it includes a rest stop at my post office! The Arts Festival will conclude officially on Sunday night, with a performance at the Shell stage, located on Old Main's lawn.

With everything going on the rest of this week and through this weekend, I hope that you still find time to visit me up at The Park. Please note, If you need to mail any postcards that you may have purchased during the festival to friends and loved ones that couldn't make it: In honor of the Arts Festivsl, I will be offering postcard stamps -- which are normally 28 cents each -- at three for a dollar!

And remember, it's not only about the arts but about the festival! See you there.



Mike (The Mailman) Herr gives his stamp of approval to all visitors Monday through Friday at the University Park post office in the ground floor of McAllister Building, adjacent to the HUB. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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