Festival Banner (the Arts Festival blog)

Artist Carrie Jacobson in her magic hat

I often say that the most difficult thing about producing the Central Pennsylvania of the Arts is paying for it. We’re a free party!

I think we provide more free entertainment than anyone in the Centre Region—we present four full days of free music on three outdoor stages, in addition to smaller acts along the Sidewalk Sale route. Browsing the Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition won’t cost a thing… if you don’t buy anything (for many, that’s a big if!). Watching our very talented street painters and Greg Glenn, our sand sculptor is free too.

Free to the audience that is. We pay all of our performers – it’s what they do for a living! All told, we pay performers almost $55,000, plus the cost of some meals and hotel rooms. In addition to those fees, there are the costs of the sound and light contractors, stage hands, security, landscaping, and so on and so forth.

To paraphrase Senator Everett Dirksen, it adds up to real money.

One of the ways we try to cover all the costs of the Festival is through the sale of Arts Festival t-shirts in our official merchandise booth (and online too). Throughout the year, Festival staff members and volunteers keep their eyes peeled for something that our audience will like on the front of a shirt.

It could be a work by a local artist, a Penn State student, or an exhibitor from the Children and Youth Sidewalk Sale. it could be the work of an artist (or even a juror) from the Sidewalk Sale. It could be an element from one of Lanny Sommese’s iconic Festival posters – perhaps a jester or bird or one of Lanny’s unique creatures. We’ve done text-based designs too. We don’t always know what we’re looking for, but we know it when we see it.

Choosing designs for our shirts makes me sympathetic to Parisian fashion designers, the nice folks at Lands End, and mom and pop retailers everywhere. It’s pretty darned nearly impossible to predict what the public will like.

Our sales booth volunteers have heard it all:

“I’d like this shirt except in that color.”

“Do you have the shirt with the bird on it except with an alligator instead?”

“Do you have any of those new rompers for guys I’ve been hearing so much about?”

Our great volunteers, headed up by Kim Ache and Loretta Marley, patiently tell all those searching customers that what they see is what we have. Some folks are fine with that and go with their personal Plan B, buying a different shirt. Others sigh, and presumably save their money for a shirt from that festival that ordered shirts in that other color. That’s right, the one with the alligator not the bird, and with those new rompers for guys that people have been hearing so much about.

This year, we’ll have our traditional Lanny Sommese poster white t-shirt. It’s available in both the traditional t-shirt style and in the ladies fitted tee. Year in and year out, a “white Lanny shirt” is a popular item. Friends and relatives have spotted them at the Jersey shore, Nantucket, Disney World, and even in Europe.

Carrie Jacobson’s cows.

In addition to the “white Lanny shirt” this year we’re selling a shirt based on a painting by one of our exhibiting artists, Carrie Jacobson, booth O-20. We’re using one of Carrie’s cow paintings on our second shirt. We’ve done cow shirts before, and for whatever reason, they sell briskly.

Carrie started painting in 2006, when she was 50. At first it seemed like a way to cope with her mother’s death. Five years later, it became the focus of her life. Her painting education came primarily from the plein-air painters of the Wallkill River School, an art cooperative in Montgomery, NY.

Six months after Carrie started painting, the newspaper where she worked eliminated her job. She and her husband Peter moved to Connecticut, and she spent five more years working in journalism while showing in galleries and participating in art festivals part time.

She left journalism in 2011 to become a full-time artist. And with that decision, Carrie and Peter, their five dogs and two cats moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It’s a special place. The light is spectacular, the winters are warm, the people are friendly, and the land remains undeveloped.

Carrie works in oils with a palette knife. She paints landscapes and animals and does some portraits too.

If you like our cow shirt – or even if you don’t – swing by Carrie’s booth to see what she has. She’s the real deal, and so is her work.

We’re delighted to show off her work and to have it help us pay for the Festival that our audience knows and loves.

Did I mention that you can buy the “white Lanny shirt” and Carrie’s cow shirt online here?

Fair warning: Carrie’s shirt only comes in a cow, not an alligator.