A Visit to Long’s Park Art and Craft Festival
When I was in elementary school I thought field trips were the best thing ever. It was great fun to go someplace with my classmates from Radio Park Elementary School and still have it count as a school day. We went to hot spots like the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s fish hatchery, the Centre County Court House, and the offices of the local newspaper, The Centre Daily Times.
Last Friday my coworkers and I took a field trip of our own, and I’m delighted to report that they’re still great fun. Carol, Jennifer and I drove to Lancaster to take in the Long’s Park Art and Craft Festival, one of the art festival industry’s top shows. The festival, which takes place over Labor Day weekend, serves as a fundraiser for the summer concert series at the band shell in the park.
Unlike me, Carol and Jennifer had never been to the festival and so were particularly excited to see how Long’s Park is similar to, and different from, our show. We knew we’d see some old friends, since quite a few artists who exhibit at CPFA also exhibit at Long’s Park. I’d also told them about the great food the show, so we were looking forward to a tasty lunch with our friend Donna Wilson whose bf was an exhibitor at the show.
We noticed one difference right away—parking was free, but Long’s Park has an admission fee: $10 in advance, $12 at the gate. CPFA is practically the opposite: it’s difficult to come to our show without paying to park—some people find it impossible to come without getting a parking ticket—but we don’t have an admission fee. Although Donna scored us complimentary tickets, the admission seemed entirely reasonable, especially since the event is a fundraiser for a very good cause.
For the next couple few hours, we visited with artists, checked out things like their information and official merchandise booths, talked about safety issues, and enjoyed the show’s beautiful site in Long’s Park. We had a delicious lunch at the food court and bought raffle tickets for their fundraising raffle. (None of us won anything.)
After lunch we had an impromptu meeting with Long’s Park artistic director Tim Ardinger, Linda Bell the committee chair of the nearby Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show and a member of her committee. We shared a few stories about exhibitors and things show producers talk about—parking, trash, and food. My friend photographer Pat Little immortalized our meeting by taking our photo with my phone.
Most importantly, Tim, Linda, and the rest of us decided that we’d get together again, in Harrisburg in the fall. We’d have lunch and talk about how the challenges we face in presenting our events and what we might learn from each other in overcoming those challenges. We’ve all been in the business a while, but we agreed that we all still have a lot to learn.
On the way home Carol, Jennifer, and I stopped in Duncannon, at the Red Rabbit Drive-In. It’s one of my favorite roadside attractions, an actual drive in with car hops. It’s a survivor from the days when most towns had their own mom and pop burger joint, and outposts of national chains were the exception rather than the rule.
The soft-serve was delicious, and I even had time to take a selfie—something unheard of when I was on field trips with my classmates at Radio Park Elementary School.