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People's Choice Festival Offers Local Arts Alternative

by on July 10, 2018 5:00 AM

Artist George Marion and handful of volunteers set out in 1993 to create a new arts festival in Boalsburg, one that kept the focus on local artists, music and food and offered another summer option along with the long-established Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College.

Now 26 years later, the People's Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts is a star attraction in its own right, drawing an estimated 100,000 visitors each year and joins with Arts Fest and Philipsburg Heritage Days to make Centre County a festival destination each July.

People's Choice kicks off on Thursday and continues through Sunday. The festival is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free and parking is $5.

Since that first People's Choice -- which had about 50 vendors, a couple of food trucks, and a handful of bands -- the festival has grown significantly. This year will see nearly 200 artists and artisans, two dozen food vendors and 41 musical acts performing on two stages. The spacious Military Museum grounds, however, still make for plenty of wide-open spaces and room to spread out.

Works by local artists on display and for sale will include jewelry, pottery, sculptures, photography, baskets, leather, metalwork, fiber, woodwork, caricatures and more. All artists are from Pennsylvania and are selected for quality and affordability. See the entire list of artists here.

Whatever your musical tastes, you're bound to find something to like each of the four days. Blues, country, rock, jazz, doowop, bluegrass, big band and classical are among the choices and many popular local bands such as Pure Cane Sugar, Velveeta, JR Mangan Band, Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats, Tussey Mountain Moonshiners, Quarterstick, Eric Ian Farmer, to name just a few, are on the schedule. See the full lineup for each day here.

A community worship service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday at the south stage.

People's Choice is a family affair, and there are plenty of kids activities as well throughout the weekend. Center Court offers a sales tent for young artisans, who showcase a wide variety of artwork, jewelry, photography and other items. The Young Artisans sale runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Kids can also enjoy face painting by State High Thespians, a hands-on science museum from Dominion Science Center, Ashburn's Animals on a Mission petting zoo, bounce houses, and tie dye your own shirt each day. 

The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Kids Character Day is on Saturday with a chance to meet characters like Ike the Spike, Smokey the Bear and many more. Katerina Kittycat from "Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood," will be on hand with WPSU from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Toontown Klowns will make balloon animals, do tricks and bring more entertainment on Saturday as well.

The festival also offers a taste for almost any palate with vendors selling a huge variety of foods such as crab cakes, pierogies, sausage, gyros, pizza, barbecue, speciality grilled cheese, Chinese dishes, and sweet treats. A list of food vendors can be found here. There will also be a specialty food tent with Pennsylvania food producers showcasing a wide range of locally-made products such as cheeses, sauces, jellies and jams and coffees.

Eight wineries will be on hand to offer bottles for sale. Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery of State College, Hawstone Hollow Winery of Lewistown, Mount Nittany Vineyard & Winery of Centre Hall, Sand Castle Winery of Erwinna, Seven Mountain Wine Cellars of Spring Mills, Starr Hill Vineyard & Winery of Curwensville, Stonekeep Meadery of Birdsboro and University Wine Company of Port Matilda will have booths.


Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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