Setup begins in downtown State College for this year’s Arts Fest

CDT photo

Visitors and residents of the borough started their yearly detours around South Allen Street Sunday afternoon as workers began setting up for this year’s Arts Fest.

The 49th Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts kicks off in downtown State College this week, bringing the crafts, shopping and music the thousands of attendees have come to expect year after year. With performances and activities scheduled to begin Wednesday, stages and tents were quickly assembled in anticipation of the coming crowds.

“Every year is a new beginning,” Festival of the Arts Executive Director Rick Bryant said. “We’re just hoping for good weather at this point.”

By late afternoon, workers had built the performance stage, a food vendor booth and the visitors bureau booth, Bryant said — all along the entrance to South Allen. Still to be constructed were the barn for the silent auction by Panera Bread and a tent by the Schlow Library for the sidewalk sale.

Residents can expect even more activity on South Allen by Monday, he said. Landscapers are expected in the early morning to create custom work and water features. Banners will be hung Monday as well, with food vendors setting up over the next two days.

“Our survey says about 125,000 people are expected,” he said. Arts Fest will occupy South Allen until about 6 p.m. July 13.

Along with festival staff, workers from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 636 assisted in building the structures. Howard Walker, of Johnstown, said he’s been helping set up for Arts Fest for about six years.

“The setup is going well,” Walker said, “considering it’s not raining. We’ve had some torrential downpours in past years.”

The Local 636 covers a wide area of the state, he said, from Greensburg to Lewisburg. Along with Arts Fest setup, Walker and others from the union have helped set up different theater productions throughout the region.

Setting up for a festival is a bit different than setting up for a stage show, he said. It’s more akin to a trade show-type setup — something that’s different, but he’s still used to doing.

“It’s not moving big heavy speaker systems,” he said. “When you run two miles of cable to power a show, that’s when it gets crazy. I enjoy doing (Arts Fest) each year. It’s a nice change.”