Record crowds filled the streets of Downtown Carlisle on Saturday for the 36th annual M&T Bank Harvest of the Arts on a bright, hot day that felt much more like summer than the first full day of fall.
“We’re very, very busy today,” Glenn White, executive director of the Downtown Carlisle Association, said on Saturday morning. “We’ve already had record crowds for this time of day and we’ve only been open for about an hour now. About 3,000 people have come so far. With beautiful weather like this, we’re expecting around 25,000 could come by the end of the day.”
That’s a notable jump from last year’s event when White predicted attendance would total around 20,000 on what then was the first cool day of fall. In contrast, Saturday’s sunny temperatures peaked in the mid- to high-80s.
Harvest of the Arts is produced annually by the Downtown Carlisle Association, along with several sponsoring partners. This year’s event featured more than 120 juried artists, expanded artist demonstration and musical performance areas, food vendors, the UPMC Pinnacle Carlisle Kids’ alley, and a display of more than 100 vintage cars by the Susquehanna Valley Vintage Sports Car Club.
Whatever the weather, Carlisle native Jody Robinson said coming to Harvest of the Arts each year with husband Rick “is kind of like the start of fall.”
“We come every year just to see what they have and for the food. I love Carlisle. I like just to come downtown and see the old buildings,” said Robinson, who now lives in Bendersville.
Danielle Nace, of Newville, pulled a child’s wagon while browsing through vendors’ wares along the way. Occupying the wagon were her son, Glenn, 1, and a friend’s son, Jett Bales, 2.
“Coming here is a good way to get the little ones out, and it’s pleasant weather (Saturday). I come here every year. I like the variety of vendors,” Nace said.
Carlisle native Katherine Cristobal echoed Nace’s comments while standing next to an inflatable bounce house on the UPMC Pinnacle Carlisle Kids’ Alley. Her children, Ani, 2, and Abe, 4, were waiting in the bounce house line.
“I’ve got two toddlers and everything here is pretty much toddler friendly,” said Cristobal, who now lives in Maryland. “This is one of the reasons we came up here this weekend. This is the first year that my kids are both big enough to enjoy this. It’s been super fun. My kids are having a blast.”
In another area, blacksmith Rod Spotts, of Brownstown, was demonstrating his craft to the public. Sweat was visible on his brow as he tended to a 3,000-degree forging fire of bituminous coal and coke. “I’m just a little bit toasty,” Spotts noted.
This was the first year that Spotts and his wife, Carol, took part in the Harvest of the Arts, Carol Spotts said. “It’s a beautiful location, so I’m very pleased,” she said.
Nearby, Michael Peluso, of Elizabethtown, was demonstrating how he creates glass art in his studios. Although he works over a flame of propane and compressed oxygen that can rise to 8,000 degrees, his hands don’t feel hot, he said, because “glass is a horrible heat conductor.”
Peluso has been blowing glass for 17 years and has taught in Carlisle, Mechanicsburg, Elizabethtown and Dover for 15 years. He was accompanied on Saturday by his daughter, Angelica, 13, who said her father now considered her old enough to help out.
Carol Reed, of Carlisle, said she’s sold her Dye Lab fabric and yarn creations at Harvest of the Arts “off and on for years.” Her products include wool gauze scarves colored with natural dyes. Her indigo and marigold dyes are made from plants grown in her backyard. Pink dyes are made from avocado pits.
Reed said she likes selling at Harvest at the Arts because, “It’s a nice show. I know a lot of the people here, and it’s a happy crowd. It’s a nice mix.”