Bellefonte, PA 16823
35 years ago, when the first Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair was held on the streets of downtown Bellefonte, no one probably imagined that it would become as much a part of summer around here as mosquito bites and sweet corn. But that was then and this is now.
Friday and Saturday, August 2nd and 3rd mark the 36th continuous year for this event that began as a way to help a few local craftspeople and artists share their wares. These days it still very much remains a place where talented creators hope to make some money by selling what they've made, of course. But a lot has changed too. The crowds of attendees, for one. They're bigger now. I mean, that's what happens when you throw a Central Pa shindig and people love it. They tell more people and so on and so forth. It's become a boom weekend for the whole town, for all the small businesses who benefit from having so many visitors around at once.
Yet the Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair has also become a lot more than that. It now stands as a pretty important Juried Fair, which means that not just anyone can purchase a table and sell away. You won't find those big annoying plastic trumpets at this fair. Or a ten different hot sauce makers trying to out-name each other. Lightnin' Larry's Habanero Hellfire will make no appearance unless he makes a sauce that impresses the heck out of the 'jury' themselves.
But what you will find is much of what you have always been able to find here.
Handmade art and handmade goods and handmade deliciousness being sold by the hands that actually made them. That's kind of rare and unusual for the 21st century, isn't it. And that is exactly why this fair has become so popular and loved.
"We have many artists from Centre County and all over Pennsylvania, in addition to Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia," explains Denise Snook, who is the Assistant Director of the The Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair Committee. Her husband, Steve, is Director.
The artists and craftspeople aren't just there to make a dollar though, mind you. This fair also has a keen set of judges who wander the streets across the two days and observe very carefully each and every piece of work that is being displayed for sale. Then, when all is said and done, they announce the winners in four esteemed categories: Best New Artist, Best of Show, Best Returning Artist, and Committee's Choice. To win one of these categories means you can add that to your artist resume and bio. You have WON at the Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair, joining a select legion of past winners who have had the same bragging rights bestowed upon them.
Of course, kids might not really care all that much about who is winning what down in Bellefonte that weekend. And that's just fine. Because the fair will continue to offer up a ton of cool activities for the younger set to enjoy.
Like what, you ask?
Well, from 10am-1pm both days there will be FREE circus-themed arts and crafts for kids on the Courthouse Lawn. Be sure to stop by and let them create something beautiful of their own.
Also on the Courthouse Lawn on Friday 10:00 am - 8:00 pm and Saturday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm , there will be a kids activity called Try Dye. It's an interactive craft activity that guides participants through the steps of making their own high-quality tie-dye creation. There is a fee for this activity, but each child is sure to go home with something they're really proud of.
There will also be FREE Crafts Activities outside of the Centre County Library on Saturday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm (weather permitting). Yet another chance for budding artists to let their imaginations run wild.
Face Painting at the Mock Creations Booth will be happening as well. Madison Mock will be offering single cheek or hand designs and full-face painting for a fee.
Plus don't forget to check out some of the young artists who set up shop as part of the Fair as well. There is a great history of young people creating at here in Centre County and the fair committee sure knows it. Between 10am and 3pm both days, Youth Art Displays and Sales are given special feature. Supporting a young inspired person likely inspires other young people, I figure. So anything you spend on these artists goes a long long way.
As always, there will be plenty of live music happening all weekend long on the stage out in front of the Courthouse. This year's entertainment highlights include Bellefonte native daughter Elizabeth Webb's Jazz Duo. Webb performs monthly at Birdland in NYC, one of the more prestigious jazz clubs on Earth. Then don't miss local treasure the Bellefonte Community Band from 10-11am Saturday, or our very own Mayor Tom Wilson's superb street corner doo-wop group, RamaLama, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m on Saturday as well.
You'll probably get hungry.
But don't forget this is a fair with enough good eats to make you want to wander down to Talleyrand Park for a food coma nap right in the middle of the Gazebo.
The 2019 Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair
August 2nd & 3rd. Allegheny and High Streets
Free Shuttle Service Available
Visitors can stop by the information booth to register to win a free basket of goodies.
A show representing people living in North America and emphasizing the vibrancy and diversity of Americans.
Bonfatto's is celebrating 100 years of business in Bellefonte with lots of food and drink specials as well as plenty of great giveaways.
We get one more chance to sit out in Talleyrand Park in a warm twilight and listen to some local folks play music for us. No charge. Free. Again.
What future do you envision for your community, for this town, for Bellefonte, Pennsylvania?
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