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)!

2016 Brian Ebright Memorial Award Winner

Now that the dust has settled on the Festival, I have time to recognize the great work and long service of fine work of Anne Layng. Anne is the winner of our 2016 Brian Ebright Memorial Award. Fulton Bank sponsors the award.

The Festival staff named our only volunteer award for our first intern, Brian Ebright, a Penn State student from Hummelstown. Brian was an accounting major who died in an automobile accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike shortly after his internship ended. The Festival staff decided to honor Brian by creating a volunteer award in his memory. Award winners must show Brian’s appetite for hard work and, equally important, his zest for life. It’s not an honor for wilting violets.

As you might imagine, the Festival staff has a hard time settling on just one person. As one of our Presidential candidates might say, it takes a village to produce the Festival.  Volunteers manage the Sidewalk Sale & Exhibition, and work in our information and merchandise booths. They sell Festival buttons, deliver water, and pick up trash. In addition, they staff our Silent Auction and serve on the Festival’s Board of Directors. The list of things volunteers do at the Festival goes on and on.

Nevertheless, we plow through list of candidates, doing our best to recognize one outstanding volunteer each year. We know that it will take a long time for us to run out of good candidates.

Carol and Jennifer and I particularly enjoyed presenting the award to Anne Layng this summer

Anne has been volunteering for the Festival for a long time—she’s predates any of the paid staff and 98 44/100% of the volunteer staff—but the sands of time have not dimmed her youthful effervescence. Each summer, she’s a fixture on the Sidewalk Sale route, with a daisy tucked behind her ear, greeting old friends and making new ones.

She’s been an Artist Ambassador, she’s served the Festival’s board, she’s been a sponsor, and a customer. Her house is filled with Festival purchases. She’s been a key volunteer at our Silent Auction, an important fundraising component of our programming. She volunteers at First Night State College, too.

As the first member of the Festival’s legacy society, Anne is in the vanguard of folks who are making a planned gift or bequest to assure that the Festival sticks around for another 50 years.

The Festival isn’t Anne’s only community activity. She’s on the Session at State College Presbyterian Church and is an active alumna of Juniata College.

She’s about the present too, and in her spare time is the Festival’s tele-nurse. With one phone call she can cut through the “Press One for Fill-in-the-Blank” hell to get an ailing staff member a doctor appointment in the blink of an eye. I know this because each winter I seem to hack my way through bronchial crud. As a confirmed bachelor, I do my best to ignore it.  When I’ve hacked enough, Carol and Jennifer are relentless in telling me to call Anne. And Anne comes through with an appointment just like that, every time.

Anne and her brother Tom once gave me a crape myrtle tree as a house gift. It’s thriving in the yard of my summer place at the Jersey shore. Each time I look at it, I think of Anne, flower in her hair, and how she makes the Festival–and State College–a place people want to be.

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