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Crews Race Against Time to Set Up for Arts Fest, People's Choice Fest

by on July 07, 2015 3:32 PM

There’s a race against the clock happening in downtown State College.

Since Monday, crews from Landscape II in Boalsburg have been on the scene on Allen Street. There are water bucket stations to be constructed, displays to be put in place and greenery to be installed – and very little time to make it happen.

“The biggest challenge we face is easily making everything happen in the short amount of time we have,” says crew leader Joe Cathcart. “Once we’re on the street, we have two days to get everything done.”

Thankfully, Cathcart says the Landscape II crew has been running the set up for Arts Fest for years, giving them plenty of practice at working under such a tight deadline.

All the work on Allen Street should be wrapped up by about 8:30 Tuesday night. Then the Alpha Fire Company will wash down the street to get rid of excess dirt and mulch, officially making everything ready for the start of Arts Fest’s children and youth day on Wednesday.

Cathcart says that much of the basic Arts Fest layout stays the same from year to year – like the popular water dumping station – with only the exact locations shifting a little bit. Cathcart says the crews tend to set up different displays at different points along Allen Street so they don’t block the view of the same shops each year.

“We realize people are doing their business here, so we do try to be respectful of that,” Cathcart says.

This year, the Appalachian Outdoors store is situated directly behind the water bucket station – but marketing director Joscelyne Hauserman says that’s not a problem.

“The nice thing is that it doesn’t really affect our foot traffic at all,” Hauserman says. “In fact, with all the stuff going on in the street, it’s kind of a curiosity that might bring more people out.”

Just down the road in Boalsburg, there’s a similar race against the clock to get ready for the People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts.

Festival cofounder John Madison was out on the Pennsylvania Military Museum lawn, helping volunteers and crews from Best Event Rental set up tents and stages for the four-day-long festival that begins Thursday.

Although there’s less to set up for the People’s Choice Fest, Madison and company also have less time to do it: they get everything ready in only one day.

“It’s definitely a lot of work,” Madison says.

Thankfully, he has plenty of help. About 30 people were on scene on Tuesday to build stages and erect tents for the showcase of exclusively Pennsylvanian art.

Madison, who plays a major role in planning the People’s Choice Fest each year, says this week is one of his favorites out of the whole year. After all, what’s better than having two top-in-the-nation art shows in your back yard?

“I love the People’s Choice Fest; it’s like a child that’s grown with me over the last 23 years. And I love the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, a really nice high-end show,” Madison says. “These two shows really do a lot for this area. I don’t think we could have it better.”


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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