Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Art lovers, rejoice! 50th Annual ArtsFest returns with a twist.

bright purple flower surrounded by line of other flower yard decorations

An artist at last year’s ArtsFest made these metal lawn decorations.

Each Memorial Day weekend, ArtsFest takes over the banks of Harrisburg’s Susquehanna River. This year, the 50th annual festival returns with some new attractions.

In addition to artists displaying and selling hand-crafted goods, attendees can enjoy a flea market, live jazz music, film screenings and craft beer during the free three-day event.

“Come to Harrisburg,” said Melissa Snyder, executive director of the arts nonprofit Jump Street. “Enjoy the wonderful art, the great music and incredible food along our beautiful Susquehanna River.”

Event organizers expect more than 35,000 attendees will peruse the wares from local and national artists specializing in jewelry, pottery, photography, painting and more.

For the first time, Harrisburg’s monthly arts market, the HBG Flea, will host HbgFest, a festival within the festival.

“You’re going to be amazed at the quality of the work right here in our own backyard,” Snyder said. “HBGFest inside ArtsFest will bring the passion of HBG Flea to present a snapshot of the best of art and handiwork from our own Harrisburg local artists.”

Jump Street Executive Director Melissa Snyder and Mayor Eric Papenfuse announced the details of ArtsFest this morning.

Some might say that another craft at ArtsFest is the food, as 32 food trucks will offer a variety of cuisines and dishes.

The main stage at Kunkel Plaza will feature local school bands and other local favorites. Jazz musicians will perform with JazzFest, hosted by Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz, on a stage near the Walnut Street Bridge.

FilmFest also returns this year. The three-day festival, sponsored by Moviate Underground, will feature films ranging from documentaries to comedies and animation.

“Screenings are all free for everyone to attend,” Snyder said, “They create an atmosphere unlike any other film festival.”

Younger attendees can enjoy games and performances during KidsFest. Each day between 12 and 5 p.m., Gamut Theatre’s group, Popcorn Hat Players, will perform in the children’s section of the festival.

ArtsFest welcomes two additional partners this year.

With a special treat for beer-lovers, Camp Hill-based Ever Grain Brewing Co. will bring their craft beer to BeerFest in the Civic Club of Harrisburg.

Capital Region Water, Harrisburg’s water authority, will help ArtsFest reduce waste and water usage with a free tap water bar.

“We’re trying to cut back on our impact on the environment,” said Mayor Eric Papenfuse. “We’re going to be encouraging people to our reusable water bottles and try to avoid all the plastic bottles that usually fill the festival.”

Festival-goers can bring their own water bottles or purchase one from Jump Street and Members 1st.

Find free street parking all day Sunday and Monday, a federal holiday. Use the code LUVHBG with the ParkMobile app to score four hours of free street parking Saturday. The Market Square parking garage will be available for $10 each day of the festival.

This story was updated on 1:45 p.m. on May 15 to correct errors relating to JazzFest and the Kunkel Plaza main stage. 

Author: Yaasmeen Piper

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