Bellefonte Arts and Craft Fair celebrates its 30th anniversary

This year marks three decades since the inception of the Bellefonte Arts and Crafts Fair. Since 1983, the event has changed locations, seen a fluctuation in the number of participating artists, boasted an ever-changing musical lineup and grown to include children in the main event.

Fair director Debbie Hamilton said the 2013 event will be the third year it’s been held in Talleyrand Park. Moving the fair to the park has seen an improvement in the number of visitors and artists, she said.

The first art festival “was on the sidewalk of Bellefonte,” she said. “I believe they had 60 artists for the year.”

Art vendors are invited to apply starting in December each year. In 2000, the fair hosted more than 100 artists; last year there were 76.

While Hamilton blames the recession on fewer participating artists in the past decade, “now we have a good stabilization.”

She added that there is a “good core group” of art vendors. Among the returning artists this year are Elizabeth Hay, of State College, who creates botanical-themed antique button jewelry; Tom and Karen Vybrial, of Kittanning, who sell gourd birdhouses and hair adornments; Friendsville-based glass artist Darci Wirth and her repurposed bottle art; and Danielle Seifer, a fiber artist based in Altoona.

This year’s fair will host 77 artists, but in the event that 100 artists apply for space in next year’s fair, Hamilton said, “We have room for growth.”

She added that anyone is welcome to apply for a vendor spot, but not everyone might be accepted.

“When they fill out the application, we jury them and accept them if they meet our standards,” she said. Everything must be handmade. “We don’t want anything that has been manufactured ... it needs to be artistic,” she added.

In addition to the adult artists, 19 youth artists will set up shop and sell their wares.

“We hope that people come down and enjoy the show, the music and browse the booths,” Hamilton said. “People like to come and experience the family atmosphere.”

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