Summer parties are back
Here’s what you need to know for the first in-person Arts Fest and People’s Choice Festival in two years.
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts is one of Pennsylvania’s largest summer festivals, typically drawing around 125,000 people to Happy Valley.
This summer marks the return of the long-running festival after a two-year absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. Arts Fest, which was founded in 1967 and has gone on nearly every year since, is scheduled for July 13-17.
Whether it’s your first visit or you’re trying to knock off the rust, here are some basics.
How to get there
Downtown State College has four parking lots: 200 W. Beaver Ave., 135 S. Fraser St., 132 McAllister St., and 126 S. Pugh St. The hourly rate is $2.25 per hour during the festival . The maximum daily rate is $32.
There are parking lots at 233 S. Allen St. and 100 W. Beaver Ave., as well as on-street parking.
Visitors can also park at the West Penn State parking deck along White Course Drive. Parking is $1 per hour for the first two hours and $10 between two and 10 a.m. Cash and credit cards are accepted.
A free bus service must serve as a shuttle between the parking lot and the intersection of East College Avenue and South Allen Street. The service is expected to be available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The festival is about a 10 minute walk from the car park.
Art is the star of the show
Over 300 exhibitors from approximately 40 states typically sell their work at the festival. Among the categories offered:
- digital art
- Musical instruments
There is also a banner contest, an event that allows young artists to sell their work and street painting.
Take a little to eat
More than a dozen food vendors must settle in the borough. Some are Center County must-sees, while others must be visited from Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Virginia.
South Allen Street and West Calder Way
Miller’s tropical sno
South Allen Street and Highland Alley
Memorial Field parking lot
South Allen Street and West Nittany Avenue
- Backwoods Smokehouse
- Heeter Ice Cream Truck
- We’re Cheesin’
Sidney Friedman Park
- Hanson Korn Kettle
- Maine bay and berries
- Penn State Berkey Creamery
- The Rolling Lion Food Truck
Something to wash it away
Beer, wine and cider are entering the festival for the first time.
Arts Fest and the Central PA Tasting Trail are working in tandem to set up a short-term closed area that intends to sell alcohol, both for consumption only in this area and to take home under form of bottles, cans and growlers. No public drinking is permitted outside of the gated area, which will be located in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza on South Fraser Street.
Alcohol is expected to be sold from noon to 6 p.m. July 14-16.
The 14 members of the Tasting Trail all intend to participate. Nonprofit members include: Axemann Brewery, Barrel 21 Distillery, Big Spring Spirits, Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, Good Intent Cidery, Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery, JL Farm & Cidery 814 Cider Works, Keewaydin Cider Mill , Mt. Nittany Vineyard & Winery, Otto’s Pub And Brewery, Pisano Winery, Robin Hood Brewing Co., Seven Mountains Wine Cellars, and University Wine Company.
Other options include Bees Knees Coffee in the Memorial Field parking lot and Moody Culture Kombucha at the intersection of South Allen Street and West Nittany Avenue.
Bottles of water are available for $1 at one of the festival’s four information booths.
Music in the streets
There is a musical performance on almost every block. Some are old favorites, others are new artists looking to establish themselves. And the musical styles are not lacking.
Top outdoor venues include the Shell Festival on the Old Main Lawn, the Allen Street Stage and the Sydney Friedman Park Stage. Smaller acts are scheduled to perform in outdoor plazas.
Those who prefer the comfort of an indoor show can visit the State Theatre, State College Presbyterian Church, and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
Admission to most shows will be by a $15 festival wristband. They are available on the sites and more than a dozen places in the Center and Bellefonte Region.
Jazz, bluegrass, folk, rock, concert bands, choirs, musical theatre, dance and comedy are among the more than 80 shows programmed.
How the festival started
The party was founded in 1967when Beaver Stadium had a seating capacity of approximately 46,000 and three years before the completion of Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania.
The State College Chamber of Commerce – now the Center County Chamber of Commerce and Industry – and Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture came up with the idea. Organizers hoped to boost business during the summer in downtown State College when fewer students were in University Park.
The first festival lasted nine days. A range of artwork was donated; one vendor even sold kittens.
The festival now operates year-round with full-time staff, a volunteer board and over 500 volunteers.