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Your Guide To Arts Fest 2023

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, known best as Arts Fest, will return to State College for its 57th year beginning Wednesday, July 12, and concluding Sunday, July 16.

To be prepared for the fun-filled and busy weekend ahead, check out our guide to all of the excitement coming to State College for Arts Fest 2023.

Wristbands

Wristbands cost $15 and provide access to select performances throughout the weekend. Children 12 and younger can get a wristband at no charge and participate in Arts Fest activities for no cost.

Certain productions are exclusive to wristband holders, so be sure to check out the list of entertainers to see if you’ll need one. Most entertainment and performances will maintain a “first-come, first-seated basis,” according to Arts Fest’s website.

These bracelets can be purchased at various local businesses in State College and Bellefonte, including the Corner Room, Schlow Centre Region Library, Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, Lions Pride, and more. Folks can also snag a wristband at information booths and indoor performance sites or purchase them online prior to the festival.

Entertainment

Stages will be set up throughout downtown State College in indoor and outdoor settings. Outside stages will include the Festival Shell on Old Main Lawn, Allen Street Stage, and Sidney Friedman Park Stage. Other performances will be hosted inside The State Theatre and the State College Presbyterian Church.

Throughout the weekend, visitors can watch theatre performances, participate in a juggling workshop, or watch an improv show. Local favorites My Hero Zero, OK Otter, and Velveeta are also slated to make appearances. A full schedule with times and locations of each performance can be found here.

Sidewalk Sale & Exhibition

Over 300 artists will line the streets of downtown State College to display and sell handmade goods. Whether you’re looking for jewelry, ceramics, paintings, or even musical instruments, you just might find it at the sidewalk sale. The sale hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from July 13 to 15 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 16.

To find the location of your favorite artists, head to this map to find where they’ll be set up.

The annual juried fine art exhibition, Images 2023, will be displayed in the Schlow Centre Region Library. Nearly all of these pieces will be available for sale, and an awards reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, in the Schlow Library. Per usual, Arts Fest attendees can also expect to be delighted by the banner exhibition and street painting.

Festival Poster

Every year, festival attendees can pick up a free poster unique to that year’s celebration. This year’s poster boasts a wide variety of warm colors and some funky lettering that reads, “Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.”

For four decades, Penn State’s distinguished professor emeritus of visual arts Lanny Sommese has designed the poster. Sommese passed away in 2022, but the poster design remained in the hands of his daughter, Saige, a 2018 Penn State graduate.

Posters can be picked up at the HUB, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts office, and more locations throughout the week. There is also a limited supply of vintage posters being sold for $15 each through the online festival store.

Food Vendors

After spending a long day walking around downtown State College taking in all the sights and sounds, the only thing needed to complete the day is some amazing food. The Memorial Field parking lot will boast a food truck court with Bees Knees Coffee, Bonnie Blue’s Smokeys and Sweets, Brazilian Munchies, Everything about Crepes, Funnel Cake Kings, Happy Dishes, Hellenic Kouzina Mobile Kitchen, and Rebelz Mobile Kitchen.

Throughout downtown, folks can also find Chan’s Golden Gate, Moody Culture, Hanson’s Kettle Corn, and Maine Bay & Berry, among others. Berkey Creamery ice cream will also be served on Old Main Lawn.

Additionally, several regional vendors will be stationed at the intersection of Foster Avenue and S. Allen St. during the same hours as the Sidewalk Sale. Merchants include TorchBearer Sauces, Tait Farm Foods, Saint Rocco’s Treats, Hillbilly’s Beef Jerky, and Korte BeeworX.

Craft Beverage Expo

Those 21 and over can head to the Martin Luther King Plaza for the Central Pennsylvania Tasting Trail’s Craft Beverage Expo. For a donation of $10, guests can sample and purchase drinks either by the glass or by the bottle.

The Craft Beverage Expo is open from 3 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, and noon to 8 p.m. on July 14 and 15, with light entertainment provided all three days. Exhibitors differ by day and include local favorites such as Big Spring Spirits, University Wine Co., and Axemann Brewery.

Arts Festival Races

Following a multiple-year hiatus, the Arts Festival Races are finally returning in 2023. Runners can participate in a 5K or a 10-mile race, both of which will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg on Sunday, July 16.

The registration fee is $25 if done in advance or $30 if completed the morning of the race. Interested runners can sign up online or in person on Saturday, July 15, at the Mount Nittany Health tent across from Schlow Centre Region Library.

For more details on the newly-named Sue Crowe Memorial Arts Festival Races and registration process, visit this site.

Parking

Festival attendees are encouraged to park in the West Parking Deck near the IST Building on White Course Drive. For the first two hours, rates are $1/hour and increase to a flat rate of $10 for anything beyond two hours. A free bus service will transport people from the parking deck to downtown State College. The deck is located approximately half a mile from the festival for those who prefer to walk.

Anyone who is looking for a closer parking option can utilize one of the downtown parking decks. However, the hourly rate is $2.25 with a daily cap of $32.

Mobile App

For the first year, Arts Fest has its own app. Available on the Apple store and Google Play store, the CPFA – Arts Fest app will provide real-time updates about any schedule changes or weather to be aware of.

Additionally, it contains plenty of information about the festival itself, including where to find your favorite artists and food vendors, a full list of activities throughout the weekend, and the ability to create a custom schedule based on events you want to attend.

Other Information

Remember that prohibited items include bicycles, skateboards, and pets. Bottled water will be sold along the festival route at information booths for $2. Any other questions can likely be answered by visiting the official Arts Fest website.

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a 2024 graduate of Penn State with a degree in immunology and infectious disease. She relocated to Williamsport but will not be taking any questions about what’s next in her career. Haylee continues to be fueled by dangerous amounts of caffeine and dreams of smashing the patriarchy. Any questions or discussion about Taylor Swift’s best songs can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter if you must.

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