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Freewheeling Fun Highlights Opening Day at People’s Choice Festival

by on July 12, 2013 6:30 AM

Parents and children clapped and cheered as Chris Clark performed trick after trick on his mountain bike.

Clark is a newcomer, but his 30-minute show highlighted day one of the 21st annual People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg.

Sunny skies drew large crowds to the festival. Dozens of artists manned booths, selling an assortment of crafts, including jewelry, photographs and handmade toys. The concession stands were doing a brisk business as well.

About 40 children took a seat on the grass to watch Clark perform. Some including Zella and Zachary Hodges came all the way from Australia. To be fair, the Hodges family was spending part of the summer in State College with friends, but they made sure the festival was one of their stops.

“I really liked when he jumped off the trailer,” said Zella. “That was my favorite part in the whole show.”

Clark set up a few different ramps and boxes along with his trailer and continued to do several wheelies and bunny hops. Between tricks, the man who has done shows at various X-games events talked a little bit about bicycle safety.

“I always think it’s important to talk to the kids about being safe,” Clark said. “People seem to think that if you want to do a more challenging trick, you have to put yourself in more danger, but that’s not the case.

Clark’s grand finale called on a volunteer to stand under his trailer while he jumped over the person on his bike.

“I was a little nervous,” said 11-year old Noah Granlund. “I thought he was going to bounce his wheel off my head or something. I’m really happy he picked me though. It was awesome.”

The Granlund family used to call State College home but they now live in Stewartstown, Pa. Noah’s mother Sharon said the family makes the two-hour drive back every year for the summer festival in July.

“We wouldn’t miss it for anything,” she said. “We think it’s a fantastic event.”

Clark said that Diana Stapelford, the person in charge of the festival’s marketing and sponsorship committee, reached out to him to participate.

“She just had such a positive attitude and I realized right away what a great event it is. Anything that’s been going for 21 years straight has to be really good. I also like doing shows in front of kids. It’s a bit different from what I’m used to, but it’s fun.”

The festival is a bit of a homecoming of sorts for Clark. He travels all over the country working for Bell cycling, but he is originally from Hoboken, New Jersey and his parents now live nearby in Harrisburg.

Clark made the nine hour drive from Chicago Wednesday night to get here, and he will be off to Baltimore on Friday, but he still has at least one more show on Friday.

“I just have a real passion for bike riding, and this is a perfect event to showcase it.”

Click HERE for the complete entertainment schedule for both People's Fest and Arts Fest. 

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Drew Balis is a Penn State graduate, freelance reporter and frequent contributor to StateCollege.com.
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