The attendance for last weekend’s Mount Gretna Art Show totaled 7,325 on Saturday and Sunday, according to show director Kerry Royer.

The art show, which ran Aug. 21 and Aug. 22, brought 160 vendors from across the country together to sell their art, after a year’s hiatus from the in-person art show due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Patrons check out the wares of vendors on Sunday at the Mount Gretna Art Show.

“Every artist that I spoke with said they had a fantastic show,” said Royer. “The people were so happy to have the art show back in our community, and Mount Gretna is renowned in the artist community for being a fine show, so we have a lot of art patrons come to our show.

“We were pleased with the turnout and we were pleased with the support that [vendors] received, especially after such a difficult year last year, where many of the shows, which are their livelihood, were canceled.”

Read more: The art of a good time, post-COVID, in Mount Gretna’s wooded surroundings

Royer noted that Sunday’s turnout was lower than Saturday’s due to rain persisting throughout the day. However, plenty of attendees came prepared with umbrellas.

Art show-goers take a look at a booth while holding umbrellas to keep dry.

“We did have a lower gate on Sunday; it rained all day, and that kept some of our patrons away,” she explained. “That was unfortunate, but that is the reality of having an outdoor art show. The artists were still really pleased with the patrons who came to look at their art.”

This year’s art show differed from a typical year due to the ever-changing COVID-19 safety measures and restrictions. A lot of planning goes into an event as large as the Mount Gretna Art Show, and organizers had been working on possible game plans for this year’s show since last fall.

Planning for this year’s art show involved setting up parking locations, planning traffic redirection, organizing shuttle services with WellSpan Philhaven Hospital and the Mount Gretna Volunteer Fire Company, and more.

“It was a different year. It was a challenging year,” said Royer. “It takes a long time to put all of the logistics into place and, (with) the way that the pandemic affected the different kinds of mandates through the state, we were making a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.”

With COVID-19 restrictions loosening more and more as the show drew nearer, it ended up resembling an ordinary event with some safety precautions. Booths were spaced out six feet apart (where they would normally be directly adjacent), leading to a reduced amount of vendors compared to 260 in 2019.

Tented booths were set up six feet apart to space out patrons.

“The footprint of the show was the same, but we had fewer artists this year due to spacing them out,” said Royer.

In addition, high-touch areas were frequently sanitized, hand-sanitizing stations were available, and food vendors and tables were spaced out to allow for social distancing.

A large tent that housed several of the art show’s food vendors. Vendors (both at this tent and other locations) included Urban Olive, Hess’s Barbecue Catering, the Hershey Pantry, and more.

“Everybody worked together so well,” Royer said of adapting to the pandemic. “Everybody was so accommodating. I think people are used to attending events in a different way now.”

When last year’s art show was canceled, organizers held a virtual art show on their website to provide samples of vendors’ art and links to their websites. The initiative has continued this year (accessible here) alongside the in-person show, allowing patrons to track down artists they may have seen at the show.

“We’re really happy with the visual aspect of it, and it’s a big service to the artists who come to our show,” said Royer.

Overall, she considers this year’s art show to be a success and a refreshing return to normalcy for artists and patrons alike.

“People were thrilled to come out to Mount Gretna,” Royer said. “It is such a special place with such an amazing and charming atmosphere. They were just glad to be back underneath the trees of Chautauqua where we had these high-caliber artists.”

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Emily Bixler

Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.