'We come every year': Crowds pack People’s Choice Festival in Boalsburg

The rain didn’t put a damper on the third day of the People’s Choice Festival on Saturday as organizers said an estimated 15,000 people were in attendance.

“It’s amazing the size crowd we have even in the rain,” said co-director John Madison. “There are so many people coming in and out that we must be doing something right.”

Although the air was wet and the grass was soggy most of the day, visitors said despite the conditions, they still wanted to spend a day outside with the family.

“There’s a lot to do,” said State College resident John Jamison. He spent the day with his wife, Lydia, and four kids. “We come every year because there’s something for us and a lot for the kids to do and it caters more to a family than the arts fest downtown.”

Eight-year-old Morgan Jamison was making tie-dye shirts, while her little brother Marcus, 6, was in the craft tent most of the afternoon with other kids his age. They also took pony rides, while twins, Jordyn and Kevin, 4, spent many rides on the kids train that took children around the grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum where nearly 200 food and art vendors were set up.

And for the adults, checking out affordable art and a wine tasting from a Clearfield County-based winery was their best bet.

“There are some things that are a little pricey, but in our price range for the most part. We like to support the local artisans and especially like the wine tent over there,” Lydia Jamison said as she pointed to the southwest area of the grounds where Starr Hill Winery was set up.

Winemaker Tony Starr said this is his family’s first year at the festival, but they travel to about 40 fests around the state annually.

“I guess it’s just a chance to show what we produce locally and be a part of the community,” Starr said.

The fest was started in 1993 with 61 art vendors and three food vendors, Madison said. Now there are nearly 200 vendors with help from about 100 volunteers and a five-member committee who plan for the event all year.

“Our goal is to bring the public something for everyone and to bring it all from here in Pennsylvania,” Madison said. “We meet once a month and get feedback from the public and hopefully give them what they want. After all, it is for them.”

Next year, Madison said the committee is hoping something new: a Chinese food vendor.

“We’re picky with our vendors, but want to cater to everyone,” Madison said. “It’s hard work getting things all squared away, but I guess the most rewarding this is seeing people smile. If they leave with a smile, then I’ve done my job.”