BELLEFONTE — Jessica Wells is often asked by strangers if they can pet the animals on her shoulder.
The problem is, despite their moving heads and other realistic features, the animals aren’t real.
Wells, one of the artists at the Bellefonte Arts and Crafts Fair, began making cable-operated shoulder puppets two years ago and thinks she has found her niche in the creative world.
She tries to make the puppets as realistic as possible. She said she was once stopped going into a Walmart because pets weren’t allowed in the store.
The fair, which draws more than 100 vendors and thousands of visitors to Talleyrand Park, kicked off Friday with music, food and entertainment for all ages.
The festival continues today with music and entertainment planned from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Though passing rain showers brought up umbrellas and plastic tent linings, the fervor of the artists and spectators was not diminished.
“Light rain is OK,” fine art photographer Frank Rohrer said, adding that a downpour could get people to leave and potentially endanger the artwork.
Rohrer, of Loganton, made the one-hour trek to the Bellefonte festival for the first time to sell his landscape photography, a genre he adapts from his life experiences.
“I spend a lot of time outside,” he said. “I grew up in nature.”
Across one of the park’s many bridges, Kim Bowersox, of Potters Mills, sat in her tent surrounded by her patchwork totebags, handbags and accessories.
Bowersox began crafting her products four years ago out of old clothing after a third back surgery forced her to retire from her retail job.
The hobby that just started out of boredom has become her full-time job.
Bowersox said she will keep returning to the Bellefonte festival because she now has regular customers who provide a demand for her work.
The change may not have been expected for her, but she said it’s one she looks upon favorably.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” she said.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan