May is just around the corner, and hoping to start the month off with community engagement, the Downtown State College Improvement District is organizing the May Day Art & Garden Walk this weekend.
The organization is teaming up with local businesses to showcase art and flowers from 5-8 p.m. Friday and from 12-5 p.m. Saturday throughout the streets and plazas of town.
Lee Anne Jeffries, the executive director of Downtown State College Improvement District, said her goal is to bring more people downtown, which she said has been difficult to accomplish during the pandemic.
After organizing a holiday art walk in December, Jeffries said the retail advisory committee proposed a similar event in the spring.
Danielle Stemple, chair of that committee and the marketing communications director at Lions Pride, said with Mother’s Day and graduation approaching, this is a great time to promote local businesses and art vendors.
Each of the participating businesses will team up with one local artist, who will sell art from within their stores, according to Stemple.
“Local artists have not had the opportunity to apply and show their work in any sort of fairs or festivals,” Jeffries said. “With the arts festival and People's Choice [Festival] not happening for a second year, these folks are looking for places they can sell their work.”
Along with art, Stemple said the district is working on “Downtown in Bloom,” a community painted flower project benefitting The State Theatre.
People can purchase do-it-yourself flower painting kits at The Makery, sponsored by State College Community Land Trust, and have them planted downtown with a $5 donation to The State Theatre, said Stemple.
Participants in the Art & Garden Walk will also receive a “passport” to fill out after a visit to each of the artist locations on the map. Those who complete the full art walk will have a chance to win a $100 Downtown State College gift card, according to Stemple.
Jeffries said State College Area High School’s National Art Honor Society will start creating a springtime-inspired chalk mural on a brick wall in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza Friday evening.
“In the warmer spring months, people are anxious to get outside, and people are really anxious to support the downtown community,” Stemple said. “So, we wanted to create a fun, safe and engaging space to do that that would also support our local businesses.”
Stemple said she and everyone involved in planning the event ask that people wear masks and practice social distancing while downtown.
“We're really excited to hopefully bring some joy to everyone's week, as we know people are probably starting to go a little stir crazy,” Stemple said. “It'll be a fun excuse for people to get out and to shop downtown.”
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