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Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts Preview

Entering its 44th year, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, known as Arts Fest, is State College’s biggest summer event, attracting over 125,000 visitors during its five days. Whether they’re coming for the art or the parties, thousands of Penn State students and alumni will be headed to State College this week for the festival.

Starting as a joint effort by the State College Chamber of Commerce and the College of Arts and Architecture, Arts Fest now rivals Homecoming Weekend in terms of economic impact. According to Rick Bryant, Executive Director of the festival, this week will bring in $13 million in revenue for local businesses.

Bryant and the rest of the festival’s paid staff have worked all year, beginning in earnest in January, to organize this summer’s event. In addition, over 400 volunteers will work to keep the festival safe and clean.

This year, artists from 30 states and a couple hundred musicians will be showcasing their work. The full schedule can be found here on the festival’s web site. Most performances are free, but a few will require a festival button to get in. Buttons are $10 ($5 for kids under 12), and can be bought a several downtown locations, including The Student Bookstore, State Theatre and Webster’s (full list here).

If you’re planning on coming down, here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you enjoy your weekend.

It’s Crowded

State College will be more crowded this week than most football weekends, and parking and hotel rooms will be at a premium. Much of downtown will be closed to traffic as well, so make sure you know where you’re going before you get here and be ready to walk a few miles if necessary.

It’s a Community Event

While I’m sure a lot of you are looking forward to hanging out with your friends and getting into the Penn State (read: drinking) spirit, remember this isn’t just a Penn State event. With the Town and Gown relationship strained as it is, now might be a good time to make a fresh start.

It’s an Arts Festival

While the Arts might not be your thing, be sure to take at least one afternoon to check out the vendors and exhibits. While most of the work will be out of your price range, you might find something to decorate your apartment/dorm with besides your cliché  “Rules of Wedding Crashing” poster.

It’s July

State College has four seasons, Football, Cold, Rain and July. For a few weeks each summer, State College makes up for the months of cold and reaches temperatures in the 90s and higher. As refreshing as that Natty Light might be, it’s not going to do a whole lot to combat dehydration, so make sure you at least get something else to drink.

In general, don’t be stupid and you should have the best week of your summer. Be sure to check back for more festival coverage including artist profiles and daily photo slideshows.

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About the Author

Nick Johnson

Nick is a junior majoring in IST (the Internet) and CAS (saying things). He hopes to one day get paid to do this, but for now he is willing to do it for the fame. Besides writing for Onward State, he also puts things on the Internet here.

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