The skies were sunny and temperatures were in the mid 80s as the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts kicked off on Wednesday. But at one small space along South Allen Street, it felt more like Christmas.
That's where 12-year-old Megan Smarkusky, of State College, was displaying and selling a variety of her handmade ornaments and holiday season crafts.
"This is my second year selling and I really like Christmas, so I decided to do Christmas in July," Smarkusky said. "A lot of people really like the stuff."
Smarkusky was one of more than 250 young artists and artisans from Centre County and surrounding areas selling their work at the special sidewalk sale that is a part of Children and Youth Day, which annually launches the festival with a day of entertainment and activities specifically geared toward kids.
"I like that you can really do whatever you want and and just express your creative ideas," Smarkusky said.
Nearby, 11-year-old Quinn Baxter, of State College, sold rings, bracelets, bookmarks and pygmy puffs. She said it's her third or fourth year at the sale and she was inspired by her older sister, Evin, who had already been selling earrings at Arts Fest.
Quinn Baxter, of State College, sold rings, bracelets, bookmarks and pygmy puffs from her booth on South Allen Street during the Arts Fest Children and Youth Day sidewalk sale on July 10, 2019. Photo by Geoff Rushton/StateCollege.com
"It’s fun to make stuff and to see how many people like the things I’ve created and think they’re nice," she said. "It makes me feel really happy to hear people say that."
Her sister, 16-year-old Evin, had the adjoining booth. She's even more of an Arts Fest veteran, now in her sixth year selling her earrings, charm bracelets and necklace pendants.
Most of the beads are purchased in stores or online, but some of the pieces use vintage jewelry that has been stripped and repurposed, she said. Her pendants are made from scratch.
"It started with a Christmas gift of a jewelry-making set and everyone started wanting some, so I decided to make a business out of it," Evin said.
She enjoys the youth sidewalk sale because it's an opportunity to not only exhibit her creativity but also get business experience.
"I think it’s a really good way for kids to get into entrepreneurship and it’s just a good way to bring the community together," she said.
Evin Baxter, of State College, sold her handcrafted earrings from her booth on South Allen Street during the Arts Fest Children and Youth Day sidewalk sale on July 10, 2019. Photo by Geoff Rushton/StateCollege.com
Isabella Myers, an 11-year-old from Huntingdon, also was happy to see returning business. She's been coming to the festival for the past four years to sell a variety of crafts such as bowls, plates, necklaces and earrings, all made from melted pony beads.
"One year me and my grandpa decided we wanted to sell something at Arts Fest so we looked up online and found these dreamcatchers that you make out of melted beads," she said. "We made one of those and thought we could make them into dishes, then it just went on from there."
She enjoys seeing people who have visited her booth in the past.
"It’s just fun to be able to sell my things to people and hear people say ‘Oh, I remember your stuff from last year,’" she said. "They like it and they think it’s cool."
Isabella Myers, an 11-year-old from Huntingdon, was at the Arts Fest Children and Youth Day sidewalk sale for the fourth year, selling crafts made from melted pony beads on July 10 at her booth on South Allen Street. Photo by Geoff Rushton/StateCollege.com
Elsewhere throughout the festival, there was plenty to keep the young and young at heart entertained. That included on Old Main Lawn where, amidst science and art activities, Penn State athletes made an appearance. Among them, Lady Lion basketball players took part in a water balloon toss and a number of Penn State football players signed autographs.
The Nittany Lions handed out this year's schedule poster, which has sections that can be punched out and folded into a helmet. Several players took a seat on the lawn and worked with kids to make the paper helmets.
Wide receiver Cam Sullivan Brown signs a paper helmet for a young fan on Old Main Lawn during Children and Youth Day of Arts Fest on July 10, 2019. Photo by Geoff Rushton/StateCollege.com
See more photos in the gallery below.
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts begins in full on Thursday, with the juried Sidewalk Sale & Exhibition and a full slate of entertainment and activities continuing through Sunday.