Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

The Painted Word: From the Schuylkill to the Allegheny, art festivals abound this summer.

Samantha Sanders. Photo by Landon Wise.

Going, going, gone.

Those three words may be best associated with baseball’s “boys of summer,” but they could equally apply to my favorite summertime pursuit—art festivals in Pennsylvania. As in, “I’m going to an art festival,” and “I’ve gone to an art festival.”

Art’s summer season recognizes many stages: the studio, the gallery, the museum and even the floorboards where the lights go up. So, in this season of the great outdoors stage, look for inspiration wherever your travels take you.

But, first, this commercial interruption.

This edition of “The Painted Word” is brought to you by the 26th year of free “Shakespeare in the Park” under the band shell at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg with “Much Ado About Nothing.” Now that is something! This year, the Gamut Theatre Group production runs May 31 to June 15—let’s all hope for good (dry) weather!



It’s good to be a little nosy. In Pittsburgh, nosy people are known as nebbers, as in, “I was nebbing in on the conversation, and I found stuff I shouldn’t have” (thanks Urban Dictionary). During the 10-day span of June 6 to 16, make certain you neb around the Three Rivers Art Festival, which takes place in downtown’s Point State Park, 101 Commonwealth Pl., noon to 8 p.m. daily, featuring some 300 exhibitors.

Over the following weekend, June 22 and 23, head the other way on the Turnpike to the Manayunk Arts Festival, which features 300 exhibitors in this trendy part of Philadelphia. Hours are Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Manayunk is known as a hipster hangout, offering a welcome change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Center City. Manayunk translates from the Lenape, “It’s where we go to drink,” and, appropriately, there are plenty of great watering holes and restaurants along Main Street.

Next, we take you out of the city for the rustic vibe at the Kutztown Folk Festival, which runs from June 29 to July 7 at the Kutztown Fairgrounds in Berks County. There, you’ll discover more than 200 crafts people and folk artists, along with plenty of good, old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch food. Be sure to not “throw the cow over the fence.”

Heading west again, the 53rd edition of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts beckons, with the street fair spanning the avenues of State College and on the campus of Penn State. Dates this summer run from July 10 to July 14. A sidewalk art sale takes place concurrently on the streets of State College. For more details, visit

Looking for something out of the ordinary? An oozing monster just might do the trick. The 19th Annual Blob Fest takes place in Phoenixville. Yes, actor Steve McQueen’s career was launched in the 1958 cult classic, “The Blob,” partially filmed in Phoenixville in the Colonial Theater, which is central to the three-day horror film festival, which runs July 12 to July 14. Join the madness being re-enacted as participants scream and run out of the theater. Saddle shoes and poodle skirts are optional.


Explore, Enjoy

Closer to home, it wouldn’t be summer without the 45th Annual Mt. Gretna Outdoor Art Show over the weekend of Aug. 17 to 18, held under the oaks of the Chautauqua section of Mt. Gretna at Rt. 117 and Pennsylvania Avenue. Hours are Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with 250 to 300 exhibitors and an admission fee of $8.

Several other central PA festivals close out our summer of art.

The Long’s Park Festival in Lancaster takes place over Labor Day weekend, Friday, Aug. 30, to Sunday, Aug. 31, in its 41st offering. Expect to share the experience with more than 10,000 spectators over the three-day event. Ranked as one of the top-50 fine art festivals in America, all proceeds from ticket sales benefit the foundation’s free summer music series.

If underground art is more your thing, drive down to historic Gettysburg over Labor Day weekend for Creature Feature Weekend. This independent film festival/horror convention features a lineup of dark and bizarre movies, along with celebrity guests, Q&A’s, vendors and food trucks. And, while in Gettysburg, it’s requisite to hop on a ghost and/or film location tour. More information can be found at

Finally, circle back home for the 2019 Harrisburg Mural Festival. Over 10 days, starting on Aug. 30, watch as world-class muralists bring to life grand outdoor paintings around the city. The festival will include numerous public and participation events, capped off with a block party downtown to coincide with the Art Association’s annual Gallery Walk on Sept. 8. For all the details, visit the Sprocket Mural Works website:

Given the gamut of festival fare listed, it is certain that summer is a state of mind. So get outdoors, explore and enjoy the beautiful weather, with art acting as a perfect complement.

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