People’s Choice festival offers ‘something for everyone’

About 180 vendors will line the grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, while the grassy field will come alive with performances and spectators during the 21st annual People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts, beginning Thursday.

“It’s called People’s Choice Festival, because we believe it’s the festival of choice for people in the area,” said Diana Stapleford, marketing and sponsorship director for the festival. “We pride ourselves on having something for everyone whether you’re 8 or 80.”

People Choice Festival annually promotes artisans from around the commonwealth who make a variety of crafts and jewelry.

The first festival featured 50 artists, a few food booths and limited all-volunteer groups. Now Stapleford said the fest attracts more than 100,000 people over the course of its four days, despite other festivals going on around the county in the same week.

Stapleford said the fest is all Pennsylvania-based — from its food vendors to the artisans and entertainment.

Activities include a petting zoo and pony rides, bounce house, face painting, a train that will drive children around the festival grounds and an exhibit on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that showcases the work of children.

“The work is always incredible,” Stapleford said.

In addition, the Chris Clark Bicycle Stunt Show will perform Thursday and Friday. The group brings in professional bikers from the state for a show that highlights talent and a positive, inspirational message, Stapleford said.

Live entertainment includes an Elvis impersonator, Bet Williams, Cone of Silence, Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats, My Hero Zero, Chris Woodward and Shindiggin’, Deacons of Dixieland, The Banjo Man, JR Mangan & Friends, Happy Valley Cloggers and others.

“It’s a really nice, family oriented event that showcases what Pennsylvania has,” Stapleford said.