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Annual People's Choice Festival Showcases Pennsylvanian Art

by on July 07, 2015 6:00 AM

For four days each summer, all of Pennsylvania descends on Boalsburg.

For the 23rd year running, Boalsburg will be taken over by artists from all across the state – transforming the Pennsylvania Military Museum lawn into the People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts. All the art, all the food and all of the entertainment comes exclusively from the Keystone State.

The festival kicks off on Thursday morning at 10:00, when 200 artists from the farthest corners of Pennsylvania will open their tents to the public. Boasting a wide variety of entertainment and food from across the region, the free festival will entertain an expected 100,000 visitors before it closes up shop on Sunday.

Diane Stapleford, the People’s Choice marketing director, says the fest “has grown by leaps and bounds” and that nabbing exhibit space is becoming increasingly competitive for Pennsylvanian artists of all kinds.

Stapleford says that gives the festival planners the ability to make sure that all kinds of art are fairly represented in the show – woodworking, jewelry, paintings, sketches, sculpture, photography, basket and fabric weaving, and more will all be present.

“We try to design this festival so there’s something for everyone,” Stapleford says. “We want there to be affordable art for any budget, no matter what your tastes are or whether you want to spend $5 or $5,000.”

Stapleford says the People’s Choice Festival was started by artists who wanted to give Pennsylvania craftsmen a chance to promote their homegrown creations. It started out as “a kind of spin off” from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College, which features art from all across the country and runs at the same time.

Since 1992, Stapleford says the People’s Choice festival has blossomed from a small fair with only 50 artists to “one of the top art festivals, not just in the state, but in the nation” – routinely bringing in applications from hundreds of artists.

In addition to the art Stapleford promises all sorts of fun for the whole family, including two stages of constant entertainment.

Whether you want to see some of State College’s favorite local bands, an Elvis impersonator, a magic show, or other musicians from across the state, People’s Choice has something for you.

There will also plenty of action to keep the kids happy. The Dialed Up Action Sports Team of Boalsburg promises shock and amaze with death-defying BMX stunts, and a selection of arts and crafts, petting zoos, bounce houses, and a rideable choo choo train are sure to bring smiles to the young and young at heart.

There will also be seven Pennsylvanian wineries at the festival, over 20 food vendors from across the state, along with a “specialty food tent” featuring crops straight from local farms and other delicacies grown and produced in Pennsylvania.

“If you look at our county this week, there are a lot of wonderful things going on: the Central Pennsylvania Arts Fest, the Heritage Days Festival in Philipsburg, and the People’s Choice Fest,” Stapleford says. “It’s important that we provide our community with this wonderful array of arts entertainment. It doesn’t matter who you are, because you’re going to enjoy yourself.”


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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