When COVID-19 threw a wrench in the plans for the annual Mount Gretna Art Show in 2020, organizers didn’t wait long to begin making plans for 2021.

“We have been planning since last fall to welcome the Art Show back to Mount Gretna,” show director Kerry Royer told LebTown. “We have been in contact with Lebanon County Department of Emergency Services, Cornwall Police Department, and South Londonderry Township Police Department during all stages of the planning to make sure we align with state and local guidelines.

“We were planning different scenarios of how best to engineer all aspects of the show. When gathering and travel restrictions were lifted, we were able to move ahead with much excitement to bring back the show after last summer’s hiatus.”

The 47th annual Art Show, held “under the trees of Old Chautauqua,” will run rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22. A complete list of artists participating in this year’s event is available on the show’s website at mtgretnaarts.com.

Pandemic guidelines were rolling back, but there was still a lot of uncertainty about what would be allowed this year, Royer said. That meant some creative planning was required.

“Generally, with a national juried fine art and craft show such as Mount Gretna, we start the application process in November. In the early spring, we review every application with our professional jury and send the invitations by May 1,” she explained.

“This year, we did not have enough information about capacity restrictions to make a decision on the number of artists that we could accommodate,” she said. “Our solution was to make this show artist invitational rather than juried. That allowed us to determine more details before inviting artists. I’m proud to say that we have 160 talented artists that will be showing their work at Mount Gretna this year — for some of them, this will be the first show that they have been able to participate since prior to the pandemic.”

The show will also feature a section, sponsored by a grant from the Mount Gretna United Methodist Church to support the arts, for emerging artists who have not exhibited previously.

“As you might imagine, we have a very long waiting list of artists eager to be in our show,” Royer said. “We made sure that we invited a set number so that we can provide space between every booth for social distancing. We are doing this for the comfort and safety of our artists, patrons, and volunteers.”

Other changes were made as well.

For instance, Royer said, the Kids Art Show was “re-imagined.”

“Early on, we decided to forgo the traditional Kids Show and offer artistic experiences for children instead of the vendor-type show,” she said. “We will have spin art, an art scavenger hunt, craft making and more.”

The Kids Show runs at the Chautauqua Playground from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

“We will have the same delightful level of gourmet food offerings this year,” Royer added. “Food vendors will be spread out a bit more in different locations. We have also spaced out the dining tables for everyone’s comfort. The Mount Gretna Craft Brewery will be again located in the Hall of Philosophy Building. We have ordered more hand sanitizing stations.”

Going virtual

Members of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua voted unanimously in April 2020 to cancel the show last year because of public health and safety concerns. In lieu of the outdoor event, the art show last year went virtual.

“The Virtual Art Show allowed us to create a gorgeous and user-friendly platform to showcase the work of our artists,” Royer said. “We hosted all of the 2019 artists on the site with images of their work and a link to their websites. This helps the Art Show going forward as well because after the show, we get countless emails and phone calls asking us if we remember the name of an artist. This way, patrons can scan the site and easily identify styles and mediums to contact the artist directly.”

While it kept the event current through a difficult year, Royer said she doesn’t know how successful it was from a sales perspective.

“We created this platform in support of our artists during the pandemic and did not ask for any commissions,” she said, “so I do not know how many sales were generated from this service.”

Admission for the Art Show this year is $12 for patrons 12 and over, free for anyone under 12. Proceeds support cultural programs of the Pennsylvania Chautauqua and help to maintain the Chautauqua’s historic buildings and grounds.

Free parking will be available at Soldiers Field on Timber Road (the fields near the lake), and a shuttle service will be available compliments of WellSpan Philhaven Hospital. The Mount Gretna Volunteer Fire Company will provide shuttle service for handicapped visitors.

Upon arrival, patrons will be directed to the appropriate parking area. Route 117 will be closed during the show.

Emergency Services are sponsored in part by a grant from the Lebanon County Commissioners.

Food will be available from Urban Olive, Hess’s Barbecue Catering, Gosia’s Pierogies, What If … Hershey, and The Hershey Pantry. Mount Gretna Craft Brewery will offer craft beer and wine in the Hall of Philosophy, and local restaurants — The Jigger Shop, Porch & Pantry, Mount Gretna Pizzeria, Mount Gretna Hide-A-Way and Timbers Dinner Theatre — will also be open.

Entertainment on a stage near the food court includes Andy Roberts Quartet, featuring vibraphonist Tony Miceli, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by the Paul Colombo Group from 1 to 3 p.m. On Sunday, music will be by the Ken Gehret Quartet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and by electric guitar virtuoso Trey Alexander and his band from 1 to 3.

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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.