Festival Banner (the Arts Festival blog)

New board members Renata Engel, Jean Galliano, and Steve Sampsell

The Festival’s annual meeting takes place in October and it’s an occasion for both joy and sadness. There’s joy as we note our accomplishments for the year and welcome new board members. There’s sadness too, as we say goodbye to those board members whose terms are ending.

The festival had a successful anniversary year. According to audience surveys, almost 129,000 people came to our 50th Festival in July. They enjoyed standout musical performances by such varied artists as The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, and Hughes, Kidder, and Rounds. Audience members shopped enthusiastically in the booths of over 300 Sidewalk Sale artists hailing from all across the country. The Downtown State College Italian Street Painting Festival added a Friday evening passigiata where folks could imagine—just for a moment—that they were in Rome or Florence. The Images exhibition, Banner Competition, Children and Youth Day, and BookFest all contributed to the success of the Festival.

We helped present several special exhibits for the Festival’s 50th anniversary. The exhibit at the Centre County Historical Society  included artifacts and taped interviews. The Special Collections department of Penn State’s Pattee and Paterno Library exhibited items from the Fesitval’s official archive.

Several board members produced a Festival poster trail by distributing our collection of vintage posters to businesses in the Centre Region and Bellefonte in June. Several people who turned in completed trail passports won great prizes.

And how could I not mention two special events where festival goers could enjoy a special bite to eat or drink? Our “festive spirits” benefit reception was a huge success. Yes, we’re doing it again next year. If that weren’t enough, on the Sunday of the Festival, we treated 500 people to cupcakes and Creamery ice cream and then gathered on the lawn for a group photo shot from the base of the Old Main bell tower. Don’t you agree that every birthday celebration needs a group photo?

In addition to the Festival, we also presented First Night State College on December 31, 2015. According to our audience survey, almost 14,000 came out to enjoy ice sculpture, exhibits, performances, and our 5K resolution run. While wearing our First Night hat, we worked with the Lewistown Festival of Ice and the Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival to help present those fun winter events.

After reviewing the year, we came to one of the most important parts of the annual meeting. We recognized departing board members before accepting the report of the nominating committee.

We said au revoir to four outstanding board members: Star Campbell, Sue Haug, Anne Lanyg and Joyce Robinson. They have all been a source of wise counsel, infectious enthusiasm, and unqualified support. I doubt they’ll miss our 7:45 am board meeting, but we’ll miss them. Star, Sue, Anne, and Joyce each brought special strengths to the board and their departures leave huge shoes to fill. Each of them received an inscribed oval Shaker box made by local artist Steve Strouse from wood harvested from Penn State’s elms.

After these bittersweet goodbyes, our nominating committee presented its slate of nominees before the board voted. The following individuals were elected to three year terms: Renata S. Engel, Associate Vice Provost for Online Programs at Penn State; Jean Galliano, Senior Vice President, Fulton Bank; and Steve Sampsell, Director of Strategic Communications for the College of Communications at Penn State. They’ve all been involved in the Festival and First Night as audience members and are looking forward to serving on the Festival’s Board. I’m not sure, however, if they are looking forward to a 7:45 am meeting!

The new officers are: Steve Watson, board president; Amy Caputo, vice-president; Bob Hicks, treasurer, and Diana Malcom, secretary. Steve Watson is the Director of Penn State’s Division of Campus Planning and Design in the Office of Physical Plant. Amy Caputo is currently Director of Strategic Communications for the Penn State Alumni Association. Bob Hicks is the pastor of the Upper Spruce Creek Presbyterian Church and CEO of Persea Naturals LLC. Diana Malcom is the Associate in Ministry for college age ministry at State College Presbyterian Church. They’re a great group. Like me, they’re looking forward to making the Festival even better in its second fifty years.