STATE COLLEGE - If accolades are any indication of how much of a good time one might have at an event, the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts is the place to be this summer.
This year the festival, which kicks off July 10 with its children and youth day and continues through July 14, came in at No. 5 on Livability.com's 2013 Top 10 Summer Festivals list, and received State College Borough's Legacy Award in recognition of its volunteers.
"I think the festival has gotten the recognition since we do a good job of presenting an event that people can be a part of and be proud of, but one that ... gets them [people] to look at art or listen to music that stretches their taste but in a fun way," Executive Director Rick Bryant said in an email.
Mirror file photos by Patrick Waksmunski
Children run through the popular Water Dumper setup at last year's festival.
Chinese embroidery artist Xiao Xia Zhang of Cleveland demonstrates her work.
The festival's volunteers play a large part in its success.
"We're fortunate in that so many people in Centre County and beyond take ownership in the festival," Bryant said.
A past volunteer is even coming back to volunteer while in town from Europe where she is living, he said.
If you go
What: Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
Where: Downtown State College and University Park campus
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 10, children and youth day; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 11, 12, and 13; noon to 5 p.m. July 14.
Admission: Free. Indoor performances require a $10 admission button. Children 12 and younger are free with an adult wearing a button.
Button events: The button is required for "Peter and the Wolf" by The National Marionette Theatre; Pennsylvania Dance Theatre; Cassie and Maggie MacDonald; The Four Bitchin' Babes; Essence of Joy Alumni Choir; Academy of Sacred Music Choral Institute Choir, Naomi Seidman/Jonathan Dexter; and the Penn State NU Musical Theater show's: "A Hair Out of Place"; "Bleeding Love"; and the NU Musical Theater Cabaret.
On the web: http://www.arts-festival.com
"That shows quite a dedication. And she's not alone. We have a large crew of dedicated volunteers who work in year and year out to make the festival happen. They take pride in making sure that our visitors have a quality experience here and it shows."
And the festival is continuously evolving.
"The Arts Festival is an organic event in the sense that we are always adding new things and discontinuing others. We used to have a fiddling contest and a photography exhibit, but don't do those at the moment," Board President Katherine Allen said in an email. "In recent years, Arts Festival has added a number of new events."
Those events from the last several years include Bookfest, the Pat Farrell Community Sing Along, and the Italian Street Painting on Heister Street, she said.
Attendees also will be able to pick up a taste of Pennsylvania while at the festival, Bryant said. Pennsylvania Prepared Food Producers will have salad dressing and hot sauces for sale.
It "will give festivalgoers items they can take home and enjoy in a different way than a painting or piece of jewelry," Allen said.
Also among the new offerings this year are concerts at both the State Theatre and the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center, Bryant said.
At the State are: Pennsylvania Dance Theatre, Cassie and Maggie MacDonald, and the Four Bitchin' Babes, a touring musical-theater comedy troupe.
"We write our own material and have nine recordings as a group spanning 23 years," said 1990 founding group member of the Four Bitchin' Babes Sally Fingerett of Columbus, Ohio, in an email. "We sing and play our own instruments, taking turns in the spotlight. We throw in stand-up, never blue humor, harmonize and create a vivid and wacky night of music and laughs."
New in the Penn State Downtown Theatre are the Penn State NU Musical Theater's workshop productions with no sets or costumes, Bryant said.
"One is called 'A Hair Out of Place' and the other is called 'Bleeding Love,'" he said. "There is also a musical cabaret, as in singing around a piano in the theater lobby on Friday and Saturday nights."
But it's not all about what's new. In fact, the festival itself is approaching a milestone anniversary.
"For the future, we are just starting to plan for our 50th anniversary celebration in 2016," Allen said. "Several past board presidents and other volunteers have already agreed to serve on a planning group and we're excited about that up-coming event in three years."
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.