Children and Youth Day kicks off Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College

Zach Jester has been tinkering with electronics for years, but Wednesday was the first chance he ever got to sell his creations. And he loved it.

The eager 11-year-old entered his booth at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts at 8:30 a.m. and rarely left until it was time to pack up. It was a successful day for Zach, selling all of his small and large birdseed wreaths and many light-up bracelets. Zach has been in robotics competitions the past four years.

“Already, I’ve made what I put in as cost, and I still have a bunch left,” he said excitedly in the early afternoon.

Children and Youth Day kicks off the annual arts festival that is attended by more than 120,000 people each year.

Zach’s mom, Christie Jester, said he has been pulling out the sewing machine each day during the past week, using conductive thread to hand-tie all the circuits together for the LED light bracelets.

Christie Jester is a self-proclaimed “Arts Fest junkie,” coming every year since 1992 and enjoying the experience, especially on Children and Youth Day.

“I love it,” she said. “I love watching the kids and their creativity and how much work they put into it.”

She moved around South Allen Street checking out some of the other booths and said the quality of the crafts is increasing every year.

In one of the other booths sat Elisa Shadow, another 11-year-old getting her first taste as a vendor on kids day.

She had helped another vendor sell his photography in past years and wanted to give it a try herself.

“He really inspired me,” she said. “I really likely helping him.”

Elisa has been working with her camera taking nature shots, preparing for the sidewalk sale and was happy with the comments she got. Her favorite part of the day was just watching everyone looking around and having a good time.

Heather Shadow, her mother, said Elisa had been getting good feedback all day. She said the photography gives her daughter something to do in the summer.

All the vendors were able to brave some morning rain showers to have an overall good day.

“Despite it raining a little this morning, it’s lots of fun for everyone,” Heather Shadow said.

Children and Youth Day is also more than just the sidewalk sale.

Kids could be seen all day running under the the water buckets that have become a staple of the arts festival and some children also took the Allen Street Stage singing or playing musical instruments. The day culminated with a large parade at 4 p.m.

The festival will continue Thursday at 10 a.m. with adult vendors on downtown streets and on Penn State’s campus.

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