Painting their way to Grange Fair

The recreation building at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair grounds is starting to look a little different.

Before last month, it was a basic boarded structure, similar to a pavilion encompassed by thin wood panel walls.

But boards donated by local lumber companies were installed during the second week of July, followed by priming.

It was all to make a canvas for local students to paint murals on the inside walls of the facility.

Grange Fair rec building supervisor Eileen Cramer, with the help from Bellefonte Area art teacher Heather Fry, spearheaded a new project this year for local youth to be a part of fair preparations.

The idea, Cramer said, was to get a group of students, ages 8 to 18, involved in creating art in the building that depicts what the Grange Fair is all about.

“The rec building actually needed to be brightened just to make it more lively and happy for the kids, so I have invited youth to come in and they’re painting murals just to brighten up the building and make things happy, and feel proud to be part of a lifetime of Grange Fair,” Cramer said.

It started Monday with eight elementary and middle school students.

Fry said more high school students will participate next week, including many from Bellefonte Area High School.

On Wednesday, two Penns Valley Area middle school students kicked off the morning finishing an area of the wall that depicted typical fair weather — a mix of sunshine and storms.

They heard about the mural painting on social media.

Jenna Hyde, 12, was on the third day of her project that featured a sun, rainbow and flowers on one side of the painting area, and a wall of clouds on the other. Some other fair emblems were painted in between, including a blue ribbon that is given out to people who participate in fair activities.

“We go to the Grange Fair every year, and every year it rains,” she said. “You can’t avoid it, but sometimes it’s nice, and we like to do a lot of things there.”

Two stations away, classmate and friend Katie Gavek, 12, drew a similar design, but with an emphasis on the painting of fruits and vegetables sold at the fair.

“I want to show what the fair is like,” she said. “There is always rain, but there is a lot of farm-related stuff too.”

By the end of next week, Cramer expects the two longest of the four walls to be complete. On the front and back walls, she hopes to add a chalkboard that kids can draw on during the fair.

Those are some things that will be in the structure for as long as the building lasts.

“This is kind of the hub for many children’s activities, and we want to make it a space that’s fun and lively,” Cramer said. “They (the students) are part of something that will forever be part of Grange Fair.”

During the fair from Aug. 19-27, the rec building will host children’s activities including karaoke, a dance, magic show, educational activities with Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania and a sewing contest that allows participants to create an apron with limited supplies in a limited amount of time.

The apron will be judged and sold. Proceeds will go back into Grange Fair youth activities, Cramer said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo