Saxonburg arts festival brings out tens of thousands to quaint town
Spotty clouds and a few drops of rain did little to deter the crowds at the Saxonburg Festival of Arts on Saturday.
The weekend event, in its 34th year, usually draws between 20,000 and 30,000 people over two days, according to Hannah Shannon, volunteer coordinator.
The festival continues Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
“It’s a family friendly function,” Shannon said. “There are great food, great crafts — the live music is amazing here. It’s just a very fun, family-oriented event.”
More than 150 vendors lined Main Street, Rebecca Street and Roebling Park, selling everything from Christmas and Halloween decorations to homemade apple dumplings and buckets of cheese fries.
Most of the vendors are local, and that’s part of the draw, according to Brian Helfer, owner of H&H Concessions.
“Everyone can get their early Christmas shopping done,” he said.
Helfer has run the old-timey, Western-themed food stand since 2013, but it dates to the 1990s, he said. It offers kettle corn, snow cones, floats and more.
“It’s a fixture,” he said of the festival. “All the locals come out.”
Carol Peters of Saxonburg was among the locals. Rain kept her away last year as remnants of a tropical storm passed through, but Peters said she tries to come every year.
“I was down at the quilt show, where you have to vote on them, and I had to go through three times before I could decide,” she said.
In what began as a way to showcase his paintings, Mark Anderson now helps organize the art show portion of the festival. After showcasing his art for years, he began helping out. Now he sits on the committee.
“It’s an opportunity to show your work — art shows are really the only outlet,” said Anderson of West Deer. “There are less and less local art shows.”
It’s a team effort to put together the annual event, according to Shannon, and it takes months of preparation.
“It’s all done by volunteers,” she said.
The money raised goes to the Saxonburg Museum, which preserves and retells the history of the town, including that of pioneering engineer John Roebling. Roebling developed and patented the first wire cable — a design that would go on to suspend the likes of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Shannon said the festival is the largest fundraiser for the museum as well as Roebling Park.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .