Penns Valley

Mayfly Festival creates Millheim buzz

The Up Texas Chapel Choir entertains the crowd along Main Street during the second annual Millheim Mayfly Festival on Friday.
The Up Texas Chapel Choir entertains the crowd along Main Street during the second annual Millheim Mayfly Festival on Friday. CDT photo

Friday’s high point for Jeff Mathison was a literal one.

The Boalsburg painter spent a few enjoyable hours on top of Ingleby Overlook, capturing the Penns Valley vista in two watercolors for the Millheim Mayfly Festival’s Plein Air Paintout.

“It was perfect,” Mathison said. “I really wanted to get up there today because of all the clouds, the rolling layers of clouds, would reflect the rolling layers of mountains. From a composition viewpoint, I thought it would work great.”

Joining Mathison on the mountain during the festival’s first day were local painters Susan Nicholas Gephart and Brienne Brown. Both are also participating in the paintout competition, which continues Saturday as part of a full slate of activities centered around downtown Millheim.

Sponsored by the Green Drake Gallery & Art Center, the paintout involves several local artists creating outdoor paintings to be judged and eventually displayed in the gallery. On the festival’s second and final day, the artists will be working in or near Millheim so the public can observe them.

The gallery contains a map of the artists’ locations.

Mathison liked the light and conditions Friday much better than during the festival’s debut.

“Last year, we dealt with rain, but this time around we had great weather,” he said. “We’re happy.”

Festival organizers hope for the same response Saturday as children’s activities, demonstrations and live music take over Millheim.

The Millheim Business Community, a nonprofit organization, started the festival last year to celebrate summer and draw people to the downtown shopping district — the goal again for the second time around.

“It’s a collective effort,” said Lucy Subler, a Penn State student and Green Drake Gallery summer intern.

Subler lived in Millheim for part of her childhood. She remembers a sleepier town than the one playing host to a festival full of art, crafts, food and music.

“It’s kind of cool to see a bunch of people band together and bring people into the town,” she said.

Saturday’s lineup, starting around 10 a.m., includes fishing, casting and archery demonstrations; chain saw carving; free chair massages; food and craft vendors; a 15-mile bike road ride; live music on Main Street; and children’s activities and entertainment in Fountain Park downtown.

Festival proceeds will benefit WSOV, the low-power FM community radio station starting up in Millheim. From 2 to 4 p.m., the station will conduct live interviews about Millheim’s heritage from a temporary studio in the window of the Penns Valley Veterinary Clinic.

At 4 p.m., WSOV also will raffle off a custom-built tube amp and a handcrafted cigar box guitar.

As for the Plein Air Paintout, all participating artists will exhibit their works at the Green Drake from 4 to 8 p.m.

Mathison couldn’t resist squeezing a little more out of Friday.

“It was a good day,” he said while en route to another site and a third painting. “I may be stretching my luck, but I’m going to try for one more.”