Looking back at last year's 40th Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show, chairperson of the art show committee Linda Bell doesn't regret not celebrating in a big way, but hopes to be able to make the show extra special for the 50th event in nine years.
"We didn't really do anything special last year, but maybe we should have," Bell said. "Hopefully we can for the 50th if we're still around."
Being that it's the 41st year of the event, it's a safe bet that the show will be around for the 50th version.
This year's event will take place on Saturday, Aug. 15 and Sunday, Aug. 16 in Mount Gretna, "under the trees of old Chautauqua."
The 260 artists will be a mix of newcomers, returning artists and Judge's Choice award winners.
"It's a blend with repeats and newer artists. We have Judge's Choice award winners, too," Bell said. "There were 30 people that the judges selected during last year's show that are invited to come back and do the show again. They are, what the judges felt, the best of that show. We have them coming back, and we have a lot of the old-timers apply again and get accepted. But we do have some newcomers, too."
In order to get accepted for the show, artists submit an application on a website called zapplication.org, where they submit their digital images and fill out a digital application form. Then, a panel of judges – who are artists themselves – get together and give each applicant a numerical number. The ones with the highest scores are invited to the show to get the highest quality possible for the show.
Bell estimates that depending on weather, the turnout can be in the high thousands for each day of the show.
"It all depends on the weather since everything is outdoors. The usual attendance is anywhere between 8,000 to 10,000 per day. For the weekend, we can do 16,000 to 20,000," Bell said.
OK, so where is everyone going to park in an area that's hard enough to find parking at 1 p.m. on a typical Tuesday?
"Well, that's our biggest bugaboo. We have the field across the street, which we know as Soldiers Field," Bell explained. "We also use the field adjacent to the Philhaven Hospital, where we park cars and shuttle them in for free."
The weather can impact things, but as Bell notes, the show must go on.
"The show is rain or shine. We've had years where it has rained on us like everyone, and it does hurt the attendance," Bell said, "but the exhibitors always say to me that the shoppers are there. They'll sometimes do better in the rain than in the sun. All of the exhibitors have their own self-contained tent that's covered."
The Art Show will take over Mount Gretna for the two days, as it's in the park area, along Pennsylvania Avenue, where the playground is and the grassy area where the Mt. Gretna Post Office is.
"We also encompass the Playhouse," Bell added. "For the same price of admission, we have a children's play going on at the Playhouse. People get a whole day of family entertainment for their admission. They get to see 260 artists, a children's play, a children's make-and-take art show, street performers, musicians and a wonderful food court. You can definitely make a day of it."
The children's show being performed is "It's Good to be an Ant." It will play at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, and at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Playhouse.
The aforementioned makeshift food court will be in the converted parking lot beside Carnegie Avenue. Bell stressed that she didn't want to make it a food court that had fair food, rather invite places that will have quality food for the customers.
Vendors include Square One Coffee, Hess's Barbecue Catering, What If , The Hershey Pantry, Urban Olive, Rebecca Briody Chef on the Go!, Rachel's Café and Creperie, Wendy Joe's Homemade cookies, pies and dog treats, The Jigger Shop, LeSorelle Porch and Pantry and Mount Gretna Pizzeria.
For the kids, as well as the performances at the Playhouse and the children's art show, there will be street performers and musicians.
Performers on Saturday include Jerry Haines, Carmitchell Sisters, Soul House and Third Stream. On Sunday, Copper Sky, Andy Roberts with New World Parade and Roberts Quartet featuring Nicole Roberts will be performing.
As for the street performers, Jerry Brown aka the Monkey Man will be performing with a trained monkey, and balloon artists Trist 'N Shout will be keeping with the art theme.
"The reason we get Trist 'N Shout is that they do things far beyond the typical balloon animals. She has a picture on her website where they created an entire life size Harley Davidson Motorcycle out of balloons," Bell explained. "Their balloon art is phenomenal. They do it quickly, so some of the times they'll make a hat or a sword for the kids. The kids and adults just love it."
The Mount Gretna Art Show, which costs $10 for anyone 12 and up and free for children 11 and under, is an event that exemplifies what Mount Gretna is about, and in a way, is an end-of-the-summer celebration.
"We were established as a way to promote education of the arts so this is our big way of promoting the arts," Bell said. "I know that a lot of people who live here feel that way because when the weekend is over, it's like Christmas is over now. But Labor Day is around the corner, of course."