Opening day of People’s Choice features vendors, attractions

In a festival mostly known for its sights and sounds, John Switzenberg expects it’s the smells that brought people to his tent.

His intricate beeswax sculptures made from molds have an interesting smell — cinnamon.

“More than likely, the scent draws them in, but we didn’t do it for that reason,” he said.

Switzenberg said he added the scent because the original smell heavily attracted bees, and cinnamon smell keeps them away. He said he can’t even smell the spice anymore because the sculptures are made in his basement and everything in his house smells like cinnamon.

His tent was just one of about 180 Pennsylvania vendors on opening day of the 21st annual People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts, which also includes child-friendly activities like a petting zoo, face painting, bounce house and pony rides.

The festival organizers boast something for everyone, with all kinds of different crafts and activities.

Across the Pennsylvania Military Museum field, John Robinson was selling something completely different.

Robinson, a woodworker, was selling piggy banks that are made from old post office box doors. The doors, some dating back to the 1800s, are attached to finished wood boxes, creating small safes to store items.

“We found that a lot of people like that,” he said of the lock boxes. “They have their own little stash under lock and key.”

The locks vary from key-operated to other types of combination locks, like push pin and dial and pointer.

For Robinson, the history of each door is one of the most interesting parts. They are made from various materials and styles.

“Every one of them has a different personality,” he said.

Another vendor, Birgitta Nostring, is looking to bring a part of her homeland to locals.

Growing up in Sweden, Nostring learned to knit at an early age. She said many Swedish children are taught to knit to stay warm in the cold climate.

About 36 years ago, she taught herself to create rag rugs on a loom and has made a business out of it ever since.

The traditional Swedish rugs are made from material that would have otherwise been thrown away and is repurposed into the fabric. Selling the colorful rugs in Pennsylvania is special, she said.

“To know that you are hopefully beautifying someone’s home, that’s a very good feeling,” she said.

The People’s Choice Festival continues Friday through Sunday.

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