STATE COLLEGE — As a late afternoon rainstorm chased the crowds from downtown Sunday, Lu Fuller’s mind turned to home.
Sitting inside her booth on Allen Street, among her watercolor paintings of rural Kentucky, Fuller watched the last of her customers scurry by, looking for shelter from the storm.
Soon she would be packing her vehicle and heading back to the countryside that inspires her artwork.
The scene was the same across downtown State College and the Penn State campus: a sandal maker from San Antonio, a jeweler from Miami, a seamstress from New York City, all packing up as the raindrops fell.
But for Fuller, a 25-year veteran of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, the trip is well worth the rewards.
“My customers have become my friends,” she said. “I’ve watched families grow up and have children, then met them.”
The four-day arts festival was the fourth consecutive show for Fuller, who now gets to return to Kentucky for a brief rest before heading to Syracuse next weekend for another big festival.
Despite her frequent travels, Fuller said State College stands out.
“This is one of the most pleasant four-days I do,” she said. “Honestly, State College is my favorite.”
Johnnie Dobson, from his booth on Fraser Street, said it’s the wide variety of artists that makes the festival so special.
While it was the first time for Dobson, a ceramics artist, he came last year with his wife, Penny, also an artist.
Dobson said he became notorious last year for not sticking around his wife’s tent, sneaking away to see the collection of art on display.
Despite the rain, which came about a half-hour before the festival was set to close at 5 p.m., Dobson called the day, and the festival as a whole, a success.
While some fled early, other revelers hung in until the very end, braving the rain to enjoy one last song or to make a last-minute purchase.
At the Allen Street Stage, Matt Cermanski Band, the final act of the day, wasn’t fazed by the rain. Fans gathered at the stage danced away. Farther up the street, children continued to run through the water dumping buckets.
State College resident Joan Ritchie did some last-minute shopping, leaving just before the rains came.
She timed her trip to avoid the worst of the congestion. “It’s a great day to go,” she said.
In the closing moments of the festival, the deep hum of a didgeridoo rang out.
Shannon Nicholas and his 11-year-old daughter, Autumn, bought the aboriginal instrument, and were getting a quick lesson.
“The didgeridoo is just really neat,” Nicholas said. “I’m a hippie from way back. I’ve always just liked it.”
Ritchie, carrying several photographic prints she purchased, said the variety at the festival is one reason it’s so special.
“It’s fantastic for our area,” she said. “It’s great for the downtown businesses. And there is great music.”
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter