Arts Festival Quickly Taking Shape
The once-a-year transformation that turns State College into the home of a spectacular arts extravaganza is well underway -- again.
On Monday work crews began working their magic and setting up for the 48th annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
South Allen Street is now closed from College Avenue past Schlow Library to East Fairmount Avenue. When the construction work is finished, the street will be filled with an assortment of flower-filled gardens, water attractions and performing arts stages.
Damien Grunthaner is a hardscape foreman for Landscape II, the company in charge of making it all happen, and he's been a part of the process for more than 20 years.
When told that it looks like a big job, Grunthaner laughs and says, "It is!" He adds, "There's like 50 tons of rock sitting right there," pointing to a cluster of boulders that will frame the gardens, "50 yards of mulch sitting up here," pointing to a huge mound of dark brown mulch piled at the top of Allen Street.
Grunthaner and his team spent Monday assembling the various displays, including a kids' favorite -- the water bucket booth. The contraption dumps bucket after bucket of water as children scurry across a wooden platform. Past visitors will remember hearing the kids' delighted squeals as they get soaked to the skin.
Across College Avenue, another crew was busy setting up the familiar festival tent on the Old Main lawn. The tent will host performances by dozens of performers once the Arts Fest gets underway with Children and Youth Day on Wednesday.
The festival's executive director, Rick Bryant, says there is a ton of work to do but "everything is going well." He adds, "People are excited for the festival to be here and that sort of gives us an adrenalin rush and makes the day fly by."
Arts Fest means big business for State College retailers. The Old State Clothing Company sits at the intersection of South Allen and East Beaver which is a prime location. Old State moved to that address just in time for the 2009 Arts Fest so this year is the fifth anniversary. Owner, Erin O'Leary, says the festival, which pulls in roughly 100,000 visitors each year, delivers a tremendous boost. "Arts Fest for this location is bigger than a football weekend because we're right in the heart of it," she says.
During the Arts Fest a space inside the store will be devoted to artwork produced by Penn State students. They'll also be selling Penn State sports memorabilia. "O'Leary says business has been off a bit this summer because Penn State is offering fewer sports camps this year. "But certainly, Arts Fest is what keeps us all going in the summer," she adds.
Back out on the street, Grunthaner enjoys being part of it all. "I come by once in awhile. It's interesting to see how it's used," he says.
Click HERE to visit the Arts Festival website.