STATE COLLEGE — The streets of downtown were rocking Saturday at the seventh annual Summer’s Best Music Fest.
The festival, planned by the Downtown State College Improvement District, featured 15 local bands, a sidewalk sale with retailers from downtown and a paint competition. A farmers market, PAWS tent, and public safety and roller derby demo exhibition were also at the fest.
George Arnold, of the Downtown State College Improvement District, said the fest was set up as a way to promote State College.
“It’s all about community and showcasing what our town has to offer,” Arnold said. “Each year we try to improve, expand and bring something new.”
This year included was the first plein air painting competition, which was hosted by Uncle Eli’s with nearly 40 artists. Plein air painting is an organized painting expo in which several artists simply paint outside.
Store owners said it is one of the better business days of the summer, as they set up shop on the street adjacent to their stores.
“It’s a really important day, a great event and a day for locals,” said Geoff Brugler, owner of Appalachian Outdoors. “It’s good for us because it attracts customers to what we have without having to force people to come inside.”
Kitchen Kaboodle owner Katie Dawes agreed.
“It kind of gives people an excuse to come downtown and we can all benefit from that,” she said.
In terms of the number of vendors, performers and visitors, Arnold said it also grows each year. Arnold estimated about 5,000 people from around the area were in attendance this year.
Bands took to stages on Hiester and Allen streets and Calder Way throughout the day Saturday as hundreds of fans watched. Performances included blues, bluegrass and big band music, to reggae, rock and more.
“It has something for everyone,” said State College resident Todd Jones. He explained that his wife, Melissa, enjoys shopping for art pieces and knickknacks, while he appreciates the music scene. “It really doesn’t matter what’s being played — jazz, rock, whatever — I just like hearing some local stuff and getting out.”
And on the second day of summer, the weather didn’t disappoint with sunny skies and highs in the 80s.
“It’s a real locals day and a nice day to get out,” Arnold said. “We couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Musical acts Saturday included Atlas Sound Track, Callanish, Hot Mamas, Pure Cane Sugar, Sonic Schroeder, Percolators, Chicken Tractor, Biscuit Jam, Erin Condo and The Hoofties, Jay Vonada, Keystone Society of Swing, Spider Kelly, Ted McCloskey & the HiFi’s, Triple A Blues Band, and Tussey Mountain Moonshiners.
Arnold added that some local retailers will continue their street sale Sunday, while the rest of the fest was a one-day only event.
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @M11azzo.