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People's Choice Festival: The Alternative Experience

by on July 09, 2013 3:19 PM

It's time to get ready for the huge crowds that will descend on our area this week. Many will be drawn here by the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in downtown State College. But that's not the only game in town.

Throngs of art lovers will also be five miles away in Boalsburg at the 21st annual People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts. One hundred thousand people to be exact if turnout is anything like last year.

People’s Choice is set around the Pennsylvania Military Museum grounds in Boalsburg. It's held every year at the same time as the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

The alternate festival began because a growing faction of people wanted a homegrown festival featuring only local and Pennsylvania artists.

“The downtown festival used to be an all Pennsylvania artisan festival,” said Diana Stapleford, the head of the festival’s marketing and sponsorship committee. “They opened it up to national artisans, which meant that some of those longtime artisans who had been in the festival for years were not selected. A group of artists banned together and decided they were going to start their own festival after that.”

This year’s festival begins Thursday with food, music and local art for all ages. Last year’s festival saw 171 vendors set up and this year is supposed to be even bigger with 180 registered artists. Three wineries are expected to attend, along with an extensive food court and kids section complete with a petting zoo and pony rides.

“It’s a fun atmosphere that we gear toward families,” said Stapleford. “It has grown to really be the festival of choice. It’s very different than the downtown festival. Your kids can run around and have a good time and you don’t have to worry about them running off into the road. Parking is easier, too.”

Volunteers began setting up at the festival location Tuesday morning and will continue all day Wednesday. Bernard Perdian, a potter based out of Hermitage, Pa., says his company, Perdians Clayworks, has been setting up at the People’s Choice festival for 19 of its 21 years.

“It has been our best show for 19 years,” said Perdian. “After the Central PA festival made that jump to admit national artists we started setting up here. This is the real Pennsylvania Arts festival.”

Perdian, now an official festival volunteer, was part of the initial defection of Pennsylvania artists in 1993 from the downtown to Boalsburg. He says it’s much easier and convenient to secure a location and he has never regretted it.

“Central PA is really good to us,” said Perdian. “They like our pottery in this part of the state. It’s just a really great festival for us.”

As Stapleford says, “There’s something for everybody, whether you want to spend $5 or $5,000.”

Click HERE for this complete entertainment schedules for both the People's Choice Festival and the Arts Fest.

Related stories:

South Allen Street Closed for the Arts Festival, Construction Underway

From a Small Start to a Big Deal: A History of the Arts Festival

Arts Festival Director Perfect Fit for the Lead Role

Kevin Horne is the Managing Editor of Onward State and frequent contributor to He is also a Penn State senior, majoring in journalism and political science.
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