History of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
In 1967, Lyndon Baines Johnson was President of the United States. Hubert H. Humphrey was the Vice-President. Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen of Illinois was the Republican leader in Washington. The Vietnam War raged, and was broadcast by the three networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS, into living rooms across America on the evening news. Large scale anti-war protests took place across the country.
The Apollo 1 space capsule caught fire on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy, killing astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a high of 952.
Closer to home, Interstate 80, then known as “The Keystone Shortway,” had not yet been completed across the Commonwealth. Completion would be three years into the future.
Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions went 8-2-1 and tied Florida State under Bill Peterson in the Gator Bowl. It was Coach Paterno’s second year at the head of the Penn State squad. Beaver Stadium, which had been moved from next to Rec Hall in 1960, held 46,284 people.
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts was born that summer, and lasted nine days. Sponsored by Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture and the State College Chamber of Commerce, the first Festival was opened by Governor Raymond Shafer. He arrived from Harrisburg by helicopter which landed on Old Main lawn. Penn State’s President Dr. Eric A. Walker and State College Mayor Chauncey Lang were there to greet him.
Musical performances took place downtown and on campus, and the first Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition consisted of people hanging work on snowfence along “The Wall” on the southern border of the Old Main lawn. The show wasn’t juried, so you could buy art that was good, or not so good, created by professionals and amateurs. You could even buy kittens.
As we approach our Golden Anniversary, we thank those artists, performers, volunteers, sponsors and patrons who are part of our nearly fifty year history. We look forward to fifty more years of music, dance, theater, art, craft, food, film – and most of all, fun.