Apart from being that annual summer weekend when everyone descends back into State College to reunite, the Central Pennsylvania Festival for the Arts actually has a primary function, and a really good one at that. When you walk around downtown, there’s a ton of really great artwork and performances that make you wonder to yourself, “What brought all this stuff to the middle of Pennsylvania?”
That is the $64,000 question, but while it’s all here, it’s worth taking advantage of. So without further ado, here’s a preview of this year’s Arts Fest!
The festival runs from Wednesday, July 11, until Sunday, July 15. Wednesday is Children & Youth Day, and the main part of the festival kicks off Thursday.
In terms of logistics, all of State College is going to be packed, so more power to you if you can find a parking space downtown (I found one on Pugh Street last year and was absolutely shocked). Arts Fest recommends parking in the lots east of the Bryce Jordan Center and then taking the Blue Loop downtown. At $5 a day, that’s not a bad idea, compared to what you’ll pay downtown.
If you’re driving downtown, Allen Street will closed south of College Avenue, as are parts of West Fairmount Avenue and South Fraser Street.
Definitely a huge draw, there are way too many concerts and other performances to completely list here. All in all, there are nine venues, mostly outdoor stages:
- South Allen Street Stage (S. Allen St. between College Ave. and Beaver Ave.)
- State College Municipal Building Plaza (234 S. Allen St.)
- Sidney Friedman Park Stage (corner of S. Fraser St. and Highland Alley)
- Festival Shell Stage (Old Main Lawn)
- Memorial Field (S. Fraser St. between W. Foster Ave. and W. Nittany Ave.)
- Willard Plaza (on campus, Pollock Rd. in front of Willard Building)
- St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (208 W. Foster Ave.)
- State College Presbyterian Church (132 W. Beaver Ave.)
- The State Theatre (130 W. College Ave.)
Looking down the list it looks like there’s a range of a capella to swing to resident bar cover bands (looking at you, Velveeta). You can find the complete performance list, plus locations, times, and links to band info on the Arts Fest website and StateCollege.com. Also, be careful, because you need to buy a button to get into some of these.
South Allen Street will be closed because of general mayhem (dunk tanks, concert stages, etc.) but a decent part of downtown and some of campus will have stalls set up with artists displaying and selling some of their work. And it’s pretty sweet art too, which makes it that much worse when I walk by and torture myself by looking at their asking prices. Somehow, I doubt the bank would give me a loan to buy a painting I saw on the street, no matter how sweet it was.
BookFestPA is in town, which takes place at the Schlow Library, featuring book signings, appearances, and talks with local authors. Or, for the more outdoor-oriented, there is a 5K and a 10K race on 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, with a $20 registration fee.
Definitely check out the Arts Fest official website, which has detailed information on anything you could possibly want to know about this weekend. Hopefully you’ll come away from it with something besides getting wasted with all your Penn State friends for the annual summer reunion. Enjoy!