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Art & Community on the Town: Bellefonte's "First Sunday"


Downtown Bellefonte Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 16823


814.355.1501 ext. 216

When Lori Fisher, Gallery Manager of Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County, looks back on her museum's 7-year-run of very successful monthly First Sunday events, she knows exactly why it has all worked out so beautifully.

"The museum's First Sundays have sustained success because we continually make it a unique artistic experience each month," Fisher tells me. "Most of our galleries change on a monthly basis, allowing visitors the opportunity to see fresh new art, interact with the exhibiting artists and participate in special activities or programming when incorporated. We have truly created a community of artists, families and patrons."

Now she's teamed up with some of the most creative minds on the Bellefonte scene to expand those popular museum First Sundays (which hundreds of people regularly attend) into a town-wide event. Why? Because Bellefonte, they figure, is the perfect town for this kind of thing.

"Between Bellefonte's architectural character, one-of-a-kind businesses, and small town charm, it creates a unique backdrop for an event like this," explains Shannon Wright, Keystone Community Development Coordinator. "We hope to include more community-centered activities in 2018 to really make it a fun day people set aside to be in Bellefonte each month."

It's a brilliant notion, this idea of attracting people from all over to descend on Bellefonte once-a-month to look at art, stroll the streets, pop into the many shops, and then enjoy a great meal at one of the town's restaurants. It's a vision that has known wild success in bigger cities all over the globe too. However it's usually First Friday that we hear all about; popular evenings set up for adults to have a night on the town. Grown-ups strolling from gallery to gallery, sipping a glass of wine while the kids hang at home with the babysitter.

Bellefonte First Sundays are unique because they're a much more family-friendly idea. Kids are welcome. In fact, families are encouraged to bring them out. Exposing them to some wonderful local artists is just the beginning, really; there are plans to have lots of interactive activities that young people can participate in every month.

"My biggest hope and vision is for Bellefonte to become a destination on First Sundays, by creating an experience for people of all ages," says Lori Fisher. "I envision participatory art activities in the street and businesses, live music and theatre groups, scavenger hunts,… the possibilities are endless."

December's inaugural town-wide First Sunday was a huge hit. Turnout was exceptional and more than 20 local business signed on to participate. That number will be growing in the months ahead.

"I spoke to businesses owners as I walked around town taking photos for and each merchant I spoke with had only positive things to say about the day," says Loaded Creative's Mark Dello Stritto. "Our continued First Sunday success will be a direct reflection of the willingness of so many businesses to remain open throughout the day."

Local shops and eateries seem eager to be in on the action. For January, the newly-opened State Burger Co. will be having a burger-building selfie contest. Anyone that builds a burger and takes a selfie of themselves with their creation and posts it on social media using the #BellefoneFirstSunday hashtag will get a free edible spoon. In addition, folks will be asked to vote on for their favorite burger creation, and the burger with the most votes will be served at State Burger Co. as a month-long special named after the winner! And kids can get in on the whole new-burger-in-town thing as well: the Children’s Creativity Centre will be throwing a “Build a Lego Burger or Diner” get-together for kids...or adults.

Plus Big Spring Spirits will be on hand with samples of their very best at the art museum.

"​A year from now, we hope First Sundays will be the place to be,"  says Shannon Wright.

Between you and me, I'd say you can bet on that.

To enter or vote in the State Burger Co. burger/selfie contest, click here:


Bellefonte's January First Sunday
Sunday, January 7th
9 AM - 5 PM

Please note that, although the event is listed as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., each Bellefonte business sets their own hours for the event.
The Bellefonte Art Museum will be open for its Art Opening and Reception from 12 to 4:30 p.m.

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