The Central PA Festival of the Arts is absolutely the premiere summer event for art lovers and culture seekers. Drawing an annual attendance over one hundred thousand strong, the air at Artsfest – as it is known – is quite literally electric. Held in pristine downtown State College every July, this week long event hosts the most prestigious art and craft vendors from the Mid-Atlantic region. It also entertains with nearly continuous music. Beyond that, Artsfest is an experience and there is no substituting an experience.
For art vendors the criteria for getting into Artsfest is immense, so the quality of the art is unparalleled. The selection of goods is such that the row of vendors stretches nearly a mile long through the heart of State College. Downtown streets are transformed into beautiful gardens and interactive art, which is always a blast for young and old alike. Sand sculpting is a big draw as is the ever popular Italian street art. On Wednesday children line the streets in vendor booths to sell their crafts alongside nationally recognized masters. Wednesday hosts a plethora of children related activities including a parade, and youth-themed shows and music.
Artsfest boasts not one but three main stages. Through the week, there is almost nonstop music. Everything from bluegrass to jazz to big band to acoustic to rock to reggae is on display. The effect of near nightly street concerts is both inspiring and a tad overwhelming, if even only pleasantly so. Local bands maintain decade old spots in the lineup and are always the fan-favorite shows with the most energy. There are plenty of food booths from local caterers and national vendors alike. The local library hosts special events through the week, and there are many events held on the Penn State campus, including nightly stargazing at the university’s planetarium.
Admission is free. Parking is extremely limited downtown but available at the Beaver Stadium lots