Warm weather brings large crowds to Allentown Art Festival

Jun 10, 2019

After a spring of rain and a forecast of more this week, the annual Allentown Art Festival had two days of blue sky and sun and more than a few sunburns. Organizers estimated the crowd at 250,000 and police say there were no major issues for them.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The annual flood of visitors into the city's Bohemian quarter filled the streets, checked out the jewelry, studied the pottery and looked at belts, briefcases and purses. They also bought a lot of food, especially anything that was cold and wet.

Sabrina was in the giant booth of Angelo's Italian Pastries.

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"Cannolis. We have different types of Italian pastries. We have cupcakes, all different types of Italian desserts," she said.

Even booths selling hot food like pizza said it was a good year. Event president Rita Harrington-Lippman admitted to doing some shopping of her own.

"I bought some pottery, that I've never seen anything like it," she said. "This woman takes horse hair and leaves and things like that and somehow she puts them on the pottery and then burns it with the flame so they get this incredible pattern. And, of course, jewelry because I have to buy jewelry every year."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Every year, jewelers say Allentown is a great market for their products. Jeweler John said there was a steady market for his "one-of-a-kind" jewelry.

"They said that they prefer to leave the husband and the dogs at home, so they can make an independent decision to purchase something," John said.

Jamestown furniture maker Bill Bale said he does not find many younger customers who can afford his local hard wood products.

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"They would like to have it, but I think they're in financial situations, with college debt and low-paying jobs, that they just can't afford it at this point in their lives, said Bale. "I have people that graduate college and come back 10 years later and buy stuff."

Bale said he attends the festival to show his work, expecting to be contacted later by customers for his arts and crafts furniture.

Painter Michael Pitts said he is also a regular to show off his work.

"This is my fourth year here in this booth," said Pitts. "On average, I would say four to five people contact me throughout the year. One guy that bought something this morning traveled from Poughkeepsie specifically for the show to get a piece from me and we've been in e-mail contact for the last, probably, three or four months."