The 2011 Blair County Arts Festival

I made the trek to POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, PA (the town formerly know as Altoona, PA) to see the Blair County Arts Festival (BCAF). The festival is held on the Penn State Altoona campus–which I had never see before–I was curious to see it. I was impressed by the reflecting pond on campus.

The Penn State Altoona reflecting pond.

The weather had looked a bit ominous in the forecast, and as I drove I passed through some brief rain, but at the festival beautiful weather reigned. Clouds dotted the sky; the sun shone brightly.

Blair County Arts Fest vendors.

The mood was festive. People were happy. Tents were set up for vendors and artists. I liked the cast leaf products that Gay Iapalucci had for sale, her company is called Leaf Me Alone.

I was thoroughly impressed by artist George LeHoop. He paints using drum sticks. The sticks are dipped in paint, then he plays on the canvas. His artwork looks like an explosion of stippling, some very cool textures. To top it off, many of the pictures come with a cd containing the sounds produced in the painting–so not only is he thinking about the painting he is generating but also the beat he is laying down. Brilliant.

A honey vendor from Bedford was selling various honeys and honey-based products. I stopped to talk to him for a bit and I purchased 8 oz of buckwheat honey. I had never heard of it before. When it was described as a molasses-like honey I thought I’d better try it.

I had heard that the BCAF featured an instrument petting zoo. As a musician this interested me. It resided beside the kids art and science tent, clearly not intended for adults. Not wishing to appear like a pedophile, I refrained from stopping, though I did notice there were no signs reading “Please do not feed the violins.”

Any outdoor event daring to call itself a festival must have food. Preferably fried food. And barbecue. Check.

The food court.

My primary reason for attending the festival was to hear my friend Chris play with the Keystone Society of Swing. Big band music is great to listen to. I love to close my eyes and pretend it’s 1950.

The Keystone Society of Swing at the Blair County Arts Fest.

On my return trip to State College the mixture of sunlight and shade on the mountains and valleys was spectacular. All in all it was a pretty sweet Sunday afternoon.


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