Thursday, July 29, 2021

Drawing Up New Traditions: From Millheim to Stormstown and beyond, artists will be celebrated this month

Arts Fest weekend in Centre County is going to look a little different again this year, but some new traditions may be taking shape in the process.

Usually, the weekend revolves around two huge festivals in the Centre Region. But with the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and People’s Choice Festival canceling in-person events for the second year in a row, some in the community drew up plans to keep a little of that arts festival atmosphere going.

Art in the Orchard

When Way Fruit Farm co-owner Jason Coopey heard the news that Arts Fest and People’s Choice had to cancel in-person events for another year, he understood, but it made him worry about what the loss would mean to the community.

With that in mind, he looked out at his farm and came up with an idea: Art in the Orchard.

“Everybody is ready to start doing things again. That is from the customer perspective, but even from the artist perspective and the food truck perspective; they count on these things. They just do. … Everybody just gave up on 2020. But it is 2021, and at some point we have to resume some level of life. We can do it safely, but at the same token we have to resume some of our life or these folks aren’t going to be here next year,” says Coopey.

Featuring 60 artist vendors, 15 food trucks, and nine bands spread out amongst the apple trees, the event is planned for July 8 (noon to 7 p.m.), 9, and 10 (both 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) at the farm in Stormstown.

“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,” Coopey says.

Coopey and his wife, Megan, will use the event to kick off their new A Way to Help nonprofit initiative, which will work to help families and kids facing financial difficulties. The Coopeys will make a donation to the cause and attendees will also have the opportunity to donate.

If Art in the Orchard is a hit, Coopey says he hopes it will continue as a new tradition during Arts Fest weekend.

“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,” says Coopey.

More information can be found at wayfruitfarm.com/artintheorchard.

Millheim WalkFest of Arts & Music

Millheim is known for its arts and music scene, with places such as the Green Drake Gallery and Art Center and its local dining and beverage businesses providing yearlong venues in a community that also cherishes its small-town values.

With the cancelation of Arts Fest, some local leaders realized there was an opportunity to showcase what the town is all about, while providing something for the community, with an event called Millheim WalkFest of Arts & Music.

 Millheim WalkFest of Arts & Music organizers include (clockwise from upper left) Karl Leitzel, Rebecca Larsen, Dennis Whittinghill, Robert Zeigler, and Beth Cowher.  (Photo by Darren Andrew Weimert)

“This event brings together multiple aspects of what Millheim is about,” says Millheim Borough Council President Robert Zeigler, who is on the event’s committee.

Fellow event organizer Karl Leitzel, a resident artist and managing partner of the Green Drake Gallery, says the walkability of the small town will provide the perfect setting for the event, which will include up to 40 arts and crafts vendors, five music stages, and food trucks.

Main music stages will be located on the Millheim Fire Company grounds and at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park, home of the Millheim Pool, which will be open during the event.

Smaller music stages will be set up at other locations in town. “There should be music nonstop,” Leitzel says.

“Millheim is a walkable town with a lot of wonderful gems. We also have the space and capability to spread out events and not have things be overly crowded. We’re known for having artists and musicians in the area, and many business and community leaders think it’s time we highlight it more often,” says Zeigler.

Committee member and local business owner Rebecca Larsen says activities at the event, including those geared for children, will highlight what Millheim is all about.

“It is a funky, creative, outdoorsy, foodie kind of town. … It is a small town and to have this energy come through and people to come visit and come back a month from now to go to the winery or the new ice cream shop, I think it will really help put Millheim on the map for some people who don’t know about it,” she says.

Hours for the event are 2-8 p.m. July 9; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 10; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 11.

The festival will help support the community in other ways, as many businesses will be accepting donations for East Penns Valley Library, Millheim Pool, and Millheim Fire Company.

Organizers hope to continue the festival in the years to come, but they don’t plan to hold it on Arts Fest weekend in the future.

“This is something we can build up in the next few years and move it to not compete directly with Arts Fest or People’s Choice,” Zeigler says.

Organizers are planning a website for future events, but people can keep track of what is planned for July’s festival on the Merry Millheim Facebook page.

And that’s not all

•Titan Market, 2041 Axemann Road, Bellefonte, will host its own arts festival with local artists, craftsmen, music, and food July 9 and 10. For more: titanmarketbellefonte.com.

•The Gallery Shop in Lemont is hosting its annual Artist’s Summer Market July 9 (noon- 5:30 p.m.) and July 10 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) featuring indoor and outdoor artists booths and demos. For more: facebook.com/galleryshop.

•With Philipsburg Heritage Days also off this year, the community will host a day of activities on July 10. After a 5K race at Cold Stream Dam at 9 a.m., community members are invited to “cruise-in” and visit downtown businesses from 1-5 p.m. The day is set to end with fireworks at the dam, hosted by the We Are Inn. For more: Facebook.com/welovephilipsburg.