We look forward to welcoming everyone for the 52nd Festival of the Arts July 12-15. Children and Youth Day will be July 11. Save the date(s)!

Rick’s Top Picks for This Year’s Festival

David Myles will perform at the State Theatre on Friday evening.

A few years ago, I started making a list of my “top picks” to help give the Festival’s board members some ideas of the events they shouldn’t miss (including official functions they were expected to attend). One board member asked if I could do a version without the official functions so she could share the list with some co-workers. Voila! Rick’s Top Picks was born.

The list is five or six pages long since it includes full biographies of performers and I create it in a large font so no one can say they didn’t read it because they didn’t have their glasses. I think that’s what my friend Peggy the therapist calls a coping mechanism. 🙂

There’s a lot of variety on the list – we have an eclectic list of performers, not to mention artists representing over nineteen different media in the Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition. With things ranging from a juried gallery exhibition to a Sunday morning run, Festival-goers have no trouble finding something they like to see or do.

I can’t emphasize too strongly that just because something isn’t on this list that doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out. Far from it! These are my own thoughts on the day I made the list, and they’re subject to change. If I did the list tomorrow it would be different.

Wednesday
The Children and Youth Sidewalk Sale runs from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The range of creativity (and entrepreneurship) is remarkable!

The Pat Farrell Community Sing Along is named after a former member of the State College Choral Society who was also the President of the Festival. Why limit your singing to the shower?! It’s Wednesday at 7:30 pm at the State College Presbyterian Church (no button required). 

Thursday
Beat the crowds. Shop the Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition – you’ll see over 300 of the nation’s top artists. It’s 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, Thursday through Saturday, and 11:00 am to 4:00 pm Sunday.

Check out Safety Last! accompanied by Ben Model and his virtual theatre organ. One of the great silent comedies and the sounds of the Mighty Wurlitzer! What’s not to like? It’s at the Schwab Auditorium at 8:00 pm. A Festival button ($10) is required for admission.

Harpeth Rising is three classically trained musicians who fuse folk, rock, and classical into something greater than the sum of those parts. This is their second Festival appearance, and it won’t be long before we can’t afford to book them!  You can experience them at the State Theatre at 8:00 pm. A Festival button ($10) is required for admission.

Also worth a listen? Brother Sun, outstanding contemporary folk, at Sidney Friedman Park at 9:00 pm.

Friday
There’s no better time to see the Italian Street Painting Festival on Heister Street. The combination of talent, hard work, pastel crayons and a city street can be way cool.

Our second Festive Spirits Party to benefit the Festival takes place at 5:00 pm at The Towers Plaza, with drinks offered by Big Spring Spirits and hors d’oeuvres by Catering with Style by Dan Rallis.. Plenty of tickets are still available.

April Verch sings, plays the Appalachian fiddle, and dances – sometimes all at once! She’s at the Schwab Auditorium at 7:00 pm. A Festival button ($10) is required for admission.

David Myles is a singer-songwriter in a suit. What else would you expect from the coolest Canadian this side of Justin Trudeau? He’s at the State Theatre at 8:30 pm. A Festival button ($10) is required for admission.

The Rad Trads. It wouldn’t be the Festival without some hip Indie Rock. They’re performing at 9:30 pm at the Shell.

Saturday
Have some Festival food! You’ve resisted that smoothie, hot sausage sandwich, or chicken-on-a-stick for too long. Supporting our downtown food vendors is a way to support the Festival too.

Pick up a Festival poster at our Official Sales Booth – they’re free! You can also buy a festival t-shirt – either the poster shirt or the Carrie Jacobson cow.

Stop by the Silent Auction to see how your bids are faring. You don’t want to lose out at the last moment!

The Raleigh Ringers are one of the best bell choirs in the country. At their concert, there will be a world premiere of a piece commissioned by the Ringers and the Arts Festival. Look for a special Penn State treat at the end of the show. They’ll be at the Schwab Auditorium at 8:00 pm. A Festival button ($10) is required for admission.

I think that Hughes Kidder and Rounds started performing at the Festival when their band was called Morning Song. This is their final performance, a magical evening not to be missed. Head over to the State Theatre 8:30 pm. A Festival button ($10) is required for admission.

Billy Price was recognized as a Pittsburgh rock ‘n’ roll legend in 2016 but Festival audiences knew that he was a legend ages ago. Catch him at the Shell at 9:30 pm.

Sunday
If you have the energy left to enter the Sue Crowe Memorial Arts Festival Races, you’re a better person than I am. Even if you’re just a spectator, it’s a fun way to get vicarious exercise (it’s a real thing, I swear!) and you’re bound to see someone you know! Medlar Field, 8:00 am.

I didn’t mention Images (our juried gallery exhibition), BookFest, the Festival Banners, running through our dumping buckets, Penn State NU Musical Theatre’s production of Elektric (Thu-Sat), or a slew of other great performances. There are so many options! No matter what your musical or artistic tastes, come on downtown with your family and friends, and have a great time!

About Rick Bryant

Rick Bryant has served as the Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts since 2005. Active in the State College community, he has served on many boards including the State College Board of Health, and the Board of Deacons of State College Presbyterian Church. He currently serves as the chair of the State College Design Review Board.

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