This story appears in the June 3-9 edition of The Centre County Gazette
STORMSTOWN — After hearing about the summer events that were canceled again in 2021, Jason Coopey, co-owner of Way Fruit Farm, looked out at the farm and came up with an idea — Art in the Orchard: a festival with artists, music, food trucks and more, spanning the traditional weekend of Arts Fest in State College.
“It mainly came about because I got upset that everybody was canceling everything,” said Coopey.
“These poor artists haven’t been able to make any money in a long time and given how much has changed since last year and this year, I just thought we could do it safely this year,” Coopey said. “And I thought the artists could use the economic benefit of having something to do.”
Art in the Orchard is planned for July 8 (noon to 7 p.m.), 9 and 10 (both 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Coopey said he already has about 40 vendors lined up, but there is still room for more and he would be happy to have more local artists involved.
“We have the ability, because of the acreage that we have, to do a bigger event pretty well. … We are going to put the artists out amongst the orchard trees, so there is plenty of space. We have a beautiful, safe location for this,” he said. “We are going to do it all — artists, food trucks and bands — and we’ll see what else I can mix in before we get there. It is growing by the day,” he added.
Way Fruit Farm, 2355 Halfmoon Valley Road, is a Centre County tradition dating back to 1872, when Robert A. Way planted 1,000 apple trees on the family farm in Halfmoon Valley. Currently, the sixth-generation farm is well known in the area for its retail store, café and fall festivals.
Because he is also operating a small business, Coopey said he wanted to be able to help artists in central Pennsylvania who are running their own small businesses, by giving them a place to sell their art.
“Being an artist in the best of times is not a lucrative occupation. And not being able to sell anything for multiple years in a row, how do you survive that?” he said.
“My intent with this is to be able to help local artists.”
The inaugural Millheim Walk Fest of Arts and Music is scheduled for the same weekend, and Coopey said the two events will give people a chance to visit some of the other corners of Centre County over a weekend that usually focuses on the Centre Region. Philipsburg is also hosting a festival event that weekend.
“When I saw they were doing it, I said that is great, people can venture out a little further. … I think this is a way for them to experience a little bit of a broader part of Centre County,” he said.
If the event is a success, he hopes it will become a tradition.
“I hope that we can make this something that can maybe complement the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts for years to come, maybe with smaller artists, so we’ll see how it goes,” said Coopey.