Arts Festival setup going smoothly, streets to close for event

More than 125,000 people will descend upon State College this week, but for the borough, it’s just business as usual.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said the town has so much experience preparing for the Central Pennsylvania Fesitival of the Arts, it becomes second nature.

“We’ve been doing it a long time, so the setup and preparing for this has become a pretty routine practice for us,” he said.

Fountaine still must put in the work, coordinating with the public works and police departments to get adequate help and make sure everyone is on the same page.

The borough must put up barricades to keep cars and bikes off closed streets like South Allen Street, which is closed already from College Avenue to Fairmount Avenue until Sunday. It will be open at the intersections of College Avenue and Beaver Avenue to allow traffic through the downtown.

Other road closures starting Wednesday include Fairmount Avenue and Nittany Avenue from Fraser Street to Allen Street; Fraser Street from Nittany Avenue to Foster Avenue; and Burrowes Street from the power plant to Pollock Road. Hiester Street also will be closed starting Thursday, festival director Rick Bryant said.

The setup is also mostly the same every year for Bryant, his 15 volunteers and hired stagehands, save little hitches here and there. But he will be ready.

“We don’t have any choice but to be ready,” he said. “The show must go on, and it will.”

Bryant said one small change will be some sidewalk sale participants being moved from Fraser Street to Nittany Avenue, due to last week’s flooding.

When the festival kicks off, Bryant will be helped by about 400 volunteers, with many familiar faces who will aid in keeping everything running smoothly.

Those veteran volunteers help with unusual questions and help to work with returning artists who remember them from previous festivals.

“You can’t put on an event like this without volunteers,” Bryant said.

There will also be an increased refuse collection and police presence during the festival.

The State College Police Department will be working with Penn State and other outside agencies to ensure the safety of all the attendees. Fountaine has talked with the Centre County Emergency Management Agency, which has compiled an emergency plan in case anything unexpected happens.

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