This weekend marks 2009’s Mt Gretna Outdoor Art Show and the start of craft show season here in Central PA. Here’s a brief overview of three of the top shows in the area.
Mt Gretna is known locally for either being on the hottest or the wettest weekend of the summer, but it is always worth the meteorological discomfort. It’s nestled in a wooded community originally designed as a summer retreat that includes a recreational lake, old fashioned ice cream shop, and a park. There is a great mix of fine art and fine craft and it’s one of my favorite gift shopping experiences. There are actually two shows in Mt Gretna at the same time. The highest quality can be found in the show with the admission fee on the hill. These artists were juried in. You can still still find plenty of good work in the field and this is your best bet for finding lower priced items, but it is always hotter and wetter than the other show.
Next comes the Long’s Park Art & Craft Festival over Labor Day weekend. This show has been voted in the top three craft shows in the country by readers of American Style magazine and you can see why. There are national, regional, and local artists, and the quality has remained consistent for quite some time. Along with the great art you can find food, beer, wine, and music from great local businesses. This show is the next best thing to visiting the huge Baltimore and Philly shows.
The season ends with the PA Guild of Craftsmen’s Holiday Show. This show used to be at Franklin & Marshall college, which was great when I lived in the city and could walk there, but parking was atrocious. This is the second year that it will be held at the Manheim Township High School (not Manheim Central which actually in Manheim, confusing, I know) where parking is not a problem and it is still pretty centrally located. This show is in November which makes it ideal for holiday shopping. It’s packed full of the best craftspeople PA has to offer. Yes, there are some guild members who are from out of state, but the quality of work remains consistent and this is still your best bet for finding work by local and regional artists and to help boost the local economy.
There are other great craft shows in the Central PA area, Kipona, Art on the Farm, and the Patriot-News Artsfest, just to name a few. But these three are the most popular and draw many visitors from out of state. Check out their websites and participating artists and make plans to visit one (or more!) this year.
Mt Gretna Outdoor Art Show – August 15th & 16th
Long’s Park Art & Craft Festival – September 4th – 7th
PA Guild Fine Craft Fair – November 14th & 15th