LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The Long’s Park Art Festival is a Labor Day weekend tradition in Lancaster County. Started 43 years ago as a fundraiser for the Long’s Park Amphitheater Foundation, the festival attracts hundreds of artists from around the country to share their crafts with the community.
Rick Faulkner’s father started the first Long’s Park Art Festival in the late 1970s. Faulkner, just out of grad school, was roped into helping run that first festival at the last minute when his father injured himself and couldn’t make it to the event, and “I’ve been here ever since,” he said.
This is technically the 43rd annual Long’s Park Art Festival, but due to COVID-19, the art show looked a lot different last year.
“We wanted to continue the tradition that we’ve held it every year, so we had one painter and one potter who came out, and on the Friday morning — which is like this morning — they set up their booths, and we had a couple of patrons that came, I think a couple of pieces were sold,” Faulkner described.
This year the number of artists is back to normal, increased from two to 200. Those 200 artists are selected from more than 600 applicants, Faulkner said.
Luke Voytas, a woodworker from Kempton, Pennsylvania, is one of the artists involved in the 2021 festival. Voytas has also been part of previous Long’s Park Art Festivals, as well.
Being back at in-person art shows feels a little odd, but “it’s good to be out,” Voytas said. “I get a real sense from everybody I speak to that they’re excited to be out. People seem motivated also to buy and interact, so it’s been good.”
During the pandemic, which shuttered art shows and stalled in-person business, Voytas explored new art forms, delving into blacksmithing and tending an expanding garden.
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Throughout the shutdown, the community remained supportive. “People really wanted to support artists and small business,” Voytas said, “so especially very early on in the pandemic, people were really reaching out trying to get work from me. Sales on my website were very strong, so it worked out.”
Emerging ceramic artist Chelsea McMaster, who is a new art show exhibitor, had a different experience, trying to enter the art world right as the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“This is my first big show,” McMaster said. “Right out of graduation, I had decided that I was going to go all-in, and I had applied to many shows, got into a few of them, and they all got canceled. So I had to pause everything.”
McMaster “got a real job” and moved to New Jersey during the pandemic. For the Millersville University graduate, participating in the Long’s Park Art Festival is a kind of homecoming, and it’s also an unpausing.
“It feels good. It’s starting to feel like I’m back to where I should have been,” McMaster said. She’s nervous but excited to participate in the festival.
For McMaster, Voytas, and other artists, the Long’s Park Art Festival is an opportunity to get back to sharing art with the community.
“There are artists that are saying this is their first show in two years. They’re really excited to be back, to see the public and put their art out there for people to view, enjoy, and to buy,” Faulkner said.
The Long’s Park Art Festival features woodwork, ceramics, photography, paintings, prints, jewelry, clothing, and more. There are also food and beverage options at the event. It’s open Friday, Sept. 3, until 6, Saturday, Sept. 4, from 10-6, and Sunday, Sept. 5, from 10-5. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online here.