Downtown Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 16823
This weekend marks the 35th annual Bellefonte Arts & Crafts fest, and positive change is in the summer air. Long heralded by creative types as one of the best arts and craft events anywhere, the two-day event that has been unfolding in Talleyrand Park for some time now. But for 2018, it's finally returning to where it all started: the streets of Bellefonte. And that has a heck of a lot of people smiling.
"We are excited to bring the fair back to where it originated," explains Denise Snook, who is the Assistant Director of the The Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair Committee. Putting on the fair is family affair for Snook; husband, Steve, is Director.
"For 27 years the fair was held on the streets of downtown Bellefonte before moving to the park," she says. "Change is good, and we hope the location will make it easier to get around and increase foot traffic."
Any worries about people missing the scene in the park seem unfounded though. As Snook sees it, Talleyrand is still right there for everyone to continue to visit and love during the festival.
"Folks can come and spend the day at the fair and still take a walk to enjoy the beautiful park and waterfront," she adds.
Which is almost a guarantee when you think about it. Having crowds of shoppers and visitors on the streets of Bellefonte for a festival like this naturally means that many of them will want to wander down to Talleyrand to eat some lunch or feed the ducks and trout with their kids. In fact, it may all be a better match for everyone now that the fair is back downtown. Because it seems more likely that both visiting fair artisans AND existing small business owners will BOTH benefit from the change. In the past folks flocked to the park but often didn't head up into town. Now they'll be in town already, and can stroll down to the uncrowded park to unwind a bit. That seems kind of perfect, doesn't it?
Something I really didn't know before is that the Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair is a juried one. That sounds serious… and in a way it is, because it's likely the most streamlined way of guaranteeing that all the works presented for sale at the fest. From inexpensive friendship bracelets to serious works of art, everything you see has to measure up to a standard of quality.
Best of all, it has to actually be MADE by the people selling it too. Which is exactly what you want to know when you're walking through a fair like this, I think.
Again, Denise Snook explains.
"The Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair is a juried fair which means the artists need to submit photos of their products along with a written description of their work. All arts and crafts must be original handcrafted items of the artist."
So who decides who gets in and who doesn't?
"These requirements are reviewed by a jury committee to determine an artist’s acceptance," says Snook. But that's not the end of it either. There's accolades to be had, bragging rights to be won. "The artists are judged at the fair and we give out four awards each year – Best in Show, Best New Artist, Best Returning Artist, Committee’s Choice."
If you've been to one of these fairs before then you know how family-friendly they are. If not, well, you only have to sneak a glance at the Fair's website to see what I'm saying. This year young people can follow their own creative whims with arts & crafts activities on the Courthouse Lawn on Friday & Saturday from 10 am – 1 pm. There will be an Ocean Theme, which is super summery, and so there will be lots of scratch art turtles, sand art, noodle coral reefs, crab headbands, jellyfish tambourines, wooden sailboats, tropical fans and oceans scenes to paint.
Everyone knows that the Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair is one of the shining gems in the town's historical crown. It means so much to so many from right here in Centre County as well as far away. To be a part of it now- after 35 years- means we're carrying on with something that is growing stronger each passing year.
Denise Snook gets it. For her and her husband, both town natives, it's truly labor of love.
"We both were born and raised in Bellefonte and we can remember coming to the fair as visitors each year and now," she reflects. "Now as the new directors of the Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair we are honored and thrilled to be part of such an event and continuing this Bellefonte tradition."
So come out. Bring the kids. Eat some delicious food. And look at pretty things. It's summertime… and the living is good.
The 35th Annual Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair, August 10th and 11th, 2018
Downtown Bellefonte on Allegheny & High Street
Visitors strongly encouraged to take advantage of FREE parking at the Bellefonte High School and take the FREE shuttle to the fair with 3 available stops.
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