An art lovers dream

Crowds of people navigate the streets of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts takes place July 12 through 15 in downtown State College and the Penn State University campus.

New this year is a collaboration between CPFA and The State Theatre to bring in nationally-known comedian Joe Machi, a State College native, at the theater at 10 p.m. Saturday. His performance does require a separate admission ticket ($17.50 plus $2.50 fee). “Ticket proceeds will go to cover the rental and Machi’s fee.

Whatever is leftover will go to support the general operations of the festival. It takes about a half a million dollars to put on a mostly free five day long event,” said Rick Bryant, executive director of the Central Pennsyl-vania Festival of the Arts.

Another addition this year is to diversify food selection via food trucks.

“We’re having some different options, like a Brazilian food truck,” Bryant said. “Eating options have changed tremendously in downtown State College in the last 10 years and we’re sort of playing catchup there. If the public likes it, and our food trucks do well, you might see more of that.”

CPFA continues to offer an extensive array of artists, including some who have been very successful beyond the region.

“I don’t know if the CPFA has helped propel any artists to national fame, but there have been artists here over the years who have had very successful careers. Mary Jackson, the sweetgrass basket maker (now retired from our show) won a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ grant a few years ago,” Bryant said. “One of the exhibitors in the very first Arts Festival was Henry Wessel, who went on to have a fantastic career as a photographer.

His work has been shown around the world including solo shows at the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Lost Angeles. He’s definitely in the big leagues.”

Also in the “big league” now is Machi, 39, a 1997 graduate of State College High School, who tours nationally and routinely performs stand up at the Comedy Cellar in New York City. The third and youngest son of Frank and Catherine Machi, Machi calls stand up “the career that chooses you.” The State Theatre performance will mark his first time returning to his hometown as a headline act.

“I still have family in the area so it will be unusual in that usually you never see people again after a show. It makes it harder. You don’t want to fail in front of people you know,” he said via a telephone interview.

Machi likens stand up to music in that there are different types of music and comedy. “It’s not a universal art form. Today there are more ways to do it. I hope people like it.”

He’s been performing stand up full time for the last four years and will be on the road 30 weeks in 2018, usually performing Thursday through Sunday. When not on the road, he’s at the Comedy Cellar.

Machi has earned accolades in comedy competitions and appeared on late-night television. Machi:

n Finished 4th on season 8 of NBC’s Last Comic Standing

n Performed stand up on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”

n Became regular on “Red Eye” with Greg Gutfeld

n On Fox News

n Won the 2013 NY Comedy Festival’s Funniest Comedian Competition

n Won the 2010 NY Underground Comedy Festival’s Emerging Comics Competition

CPFA is run by an independent not-for-profit corporation with three-full-time employees and more than 500 volunteers. More than 125,000 people attend CPFA annually.

The Festival started as collaboration between State College Chamber of Commerce and the Penn State University College of Arts /Architecture in 1967.

The Festival is also supported through the sale of buttons for $10 available through select retailers that gains patrons access to select indoor performances.

The activities include a juried art exhibition, sidewalk sale, banner exhibition and competition, Italian Street painting and sand sculpture, a children and youth sidewalk sale and a book festival.

In addition to food and art, fitness buffs can participate in Sunday’s Sue Crowe Memorial Arts Festival Races which offer a 10K, a 5K; The Kids Fun Run begins at 10 a.m. and offers a quarter-mile run for ages 5 to 8 and a half-mile for ages 9 to 12. Race headquarters is at Medlar Field in Lubrano Park.

Staff Writer Patt Keith can be reached at 814-949-7030.