STATE COLLEGE — For the children selling their crafts today, and the adults readying their art booths for Thursday, nothing beats the in-person feedback offered by the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
Watching people walk away with stuff that Ive made and realizing they actually like it is Brynna Zieglers favorite part of the festival, she said. Its a good feeling.
The 15-year-old from Boalsburg will participate in her third Children and Youth Day sidewalk sale today, as the annual event kicks off this years Arts Fest.
The sale takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on South Allen Street. About 150 artists ages 8 to 18 will offer their original work for sale.
Other activities today include free arts and crafts workshops on the Old Main lawn and in Sidney Friedman Park. Performances geared toward young audiences will take place at the various festival stages, and at 4 p.m. more than 300 children will carry puppets in the annual Grand Procession from Old Main to the Friedman park.
Kirstin Demer Floria, a State College native who returned after graduate school in Chicago, will spend her fourth year in a booth during the adult sidewalk sale, opening Thursday.
But Floria, now 36, remembers fondly the seven years she spent participating in the youth version of Arts Fest.
She sold watercolor paintings, clay jewelry, grapevine wreaths and a variety of other crafts.
I loved it, she said. Arts Fest is so important to my family. Instead of taking vacations, we would just go to Arts Fest every year. It was always a whole celebration for us.
While she doesnt remember what prompted her to first apply for the youth sale, Floria remembers wanting to participate.
I have always done art, from when I was really small, she said.
The experience of applying for the show, taking inventory of her crafts, taking photographs to send to festival officials, and anxiously awaiting an acceptance postcard prepared Floria for a similar process as an adult artist. Today, she creates journals, sketchbooks and other paper art.
Childrens Day is just a wonderful addition to the festival, she said. You have to be responsible for your inventory, set up your booth, talk to customers. The products they make are wonderful.
Ziegler was still sewing some of her inventory Tuesday afternoon, preparing skirts she recently designed using the bottom half of a mens dress shirt.
She already uses the top half to sew handbags and the sleeves from two shirts to make skirts. She sold drawings of fairies and other images her first two years in the sidewalk sale.
One day, she saw a handbag crafted from a mens shirt on the Internet, then designed her own, and liked the result. A tie serves as the handle.
The shirts and ties often come from Goodwill and Ziegler looks for patterns.
I took the original one I made to school and my English teacher had me model it at the front of the classroom because she thought it was so cool, she said.
Some people asked why she was carrying around a suit, as the bag looks like a folded shirt with a tie around the collar, as they appear in store displays. Its a real talking piece, she said.
The talking is one of Florias favorite parts of the festival. Because she sells much of her work online, she doesnt have much face-to-face interaction with her customers.
They can touch my books and I can explain the process, she said, adding that her family staffs her booth so she can visit other parts of the festival. I have some shows I like to listen to. I love to go to the food stands. I love being around the atmosphere of the festival.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter