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People's Choice Festival Remains Favorite Among Many Locals

by on July 10, 2014 5:20 PM

The People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts has a lot in common with the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

Both festivals have pottery, jewelry, woodwork and paintings for sale. Both have live music and every food item imaginable available for purchase. Both occur at the same time each year.

But the People’s Choice Festival has emerged as a favorite among some locals, who say they prefer it because the art is more affordable.

Exhibitor, Joe Piazza, has come to the People’s Choice Festival for a decade. He and his wife operate the Anne St. Clair Collection, selling porcelain ornaments with hand-applied designs.

Joe Piazza likes that the Boalsburg-based People's Choice Festival is comprised of only Pennsylvania residents. All the artists, entertainers and food vendors are from the state, giving it a “community feel” that separates it from the Arts Fest in State College.

“It’s really a great event. People appreciate the art and good craftsmanship,” Piazza of Lancaster, Pa. says. “The attendees are our kind of people. Even if they don’t purchase anything, they still appreciate what we do.”

The People’s Choice began, Piazza says, because it was so difficult for Pennsylvania residents to get into the State College event. Years later, it is a rival to the popular Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

For the past 21 years, Carol Kara of Perryopolis, Pa. has come to the festival to sell her woodworking. She says her wood is all natural; none of it is stained or dyed.

"This brings people from all over the state to unite," Kara says. "I think the people who come here like that too. It gives them a sense of pride."

The annual People's Choice Festival, now in its 22nd year, was born out of frustration from local artists who were not accepted into the State College arts festival, which brings in vendors from all over the world.

Held on the grassy lawn of the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, the four-day festival attracts more than 110,000 visitors each year.

Nearly 200 artists showcase their work at the People's Choice Festival. There are more than 20 food vendors, a specialty food tent with local food producers, Pennsylvania wineries and more than 40 entertainment acts.

The festival also hosts tons of activities designed for children, including crafts, science activities, a petting zoo, pony rides, a bouncing house and face painting. 

The abundance of childrens' activities is what attracted Patton Township resident Nancy Stein.

She watches as her two children have fun at the petting zoo and says she likes that this festival has something for everyone – young and old.

“I can usually bribe my kids here. I’ll say ‘let me look at this art while you go have fun on the bouncing house,’ ” Stein says.

Stein says in her experience, she finds it more difficult to find kid-friendly activities at the State College festival. She adds that it’s easier to find parking at People’s Choice, another reason why she comes to the Boalsburg festival each year.

The People's Choice Festival, which continues until Sunday, is free to the public, although there is a fee for parking.

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Photo Gallery - People's Choice Arts Festival

Jessica Tully recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in journalism and political science. She is a frequent contributor to and has also reported for USA TODAY, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Onward State and The Daily Collegian.
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