Summer has officially arrived, and for many artists and collectors that means “festival season!” Like visiting galleries, taking classes, or creating your own work, strolling through your local arts festival with a bit of street food while music fills the air (and dodging the occasional thunderstorm!) is an integral part of the local art experience.
This region has hosted summer celebrations of the arts for decades, but a dedicated group of artists and organizers is aiming to make their mark with Lemont Fest, to be held in the village of Lemont, PA (just outside State College), from July 15–17. Now in its second year, Lemont Fest is a collaboration between the Lemont Village Association, the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania, and Penn State to put area talent on display, draw visitors from across the region and offer an alternative to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and the People’s Choice Festival.
“This is the newest arts festival in 24 years to emerge in the area and promises to promote only local artists,” says Arts Coordinator Sean Bodley. “It also introduces art lovers to the great art being made in our area,” he adds, emphasizing Lemont Fest’s commitment to quality artists offering work with a professional level of craftsmanship.
As an admissions juror who helped select those vendors, local artist Jennifer Kane says she’s proud to be part of Lemont Fest, “especially given its historical setting at the Granary” (a Lemont landmark, once used to ship agricultural goods along the old railroad). “Lemont Fest harkens back to the early days of art festivals, when area artists simply gathered to share their work with the community.”
Although the Granary is home to the artists’ booths—over thirty of them, both indoors and out—there’s plenty more to do just outside. “Having great local food and music accompanying the art experience really increases the appeal of this festival,” says artist/juror Adrienne Waterston. On Lemont’s Village Green, featured artists will perform live demonstrations in etching/printmaking, stone polishing, and ceramics thrown on potter’s wheels; visitors will also be able to mingle with artists working “en plein air” (live, outdoor painting). Teachers from the Art Alliance will host free art classes for the kids, but visitors looking for a quiet moment can walk across the street to the Art Alliance gallery for the Representing Nittany show, featuring work by both current Penn State students and alumni.
And if all this leaves you craving a break from the (visual) arts, the Green is still the place to be for speeder rides along the old railway line, a stroll through the antique car show, refreshment from vendors serving up locally produced food and drink, or hanging out in front of the stage while listening to music by bands from across the area.
Even with all this on the menu, the folks behind Lemont Fest only expect it to grow during what is already Central Pennsylvania’s busiest art weekend of the year. Bodley sums up: “I feel like the arts are expanding locally… Lemont Fest is providing opportunities to creatives and giving buyers access to new artwork and artists. My dream is to help create an emerging arts festival which connects local artists and the community in a meaningful way.” And we’d love to see you there!