Bloomsburg’s ArtFest Returns August 19th

Dedicated to bringing the arts to all communities throughout our region, The Exchange again presents Columbia County’s biggest one-day outdoor art-and-music event of the year.

We have moved ArtFest to the other side of Main Street – just as lovely and shady, but with more room!  Bigger than ever before, the fifteenth annual ArtFest will take place on Saturday, the 19th of August, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., in its convenient, attractive, and slightly adjusted location on the Square in downtown Bloomsburg, now surrounding the monument and down Market Street.  ArtFest will showcase more than 50 artists’ original work, accompanied by seven hours of live music, local and regional food vendors, and fun and educational activities for people of all ages.  A summertime art party, ArtFest draws attendees from throughout our region, and it draws artists from across Pennsylvania.  As always, the event takes place rain or shine and has no admission fee – free to all!

The exhibitors who will display and sell include painters, photographers, potters, jewelers, sculptors, fabric artists, woodworkers, skincare experts, bonsai growers, and more.  Eleven non-profit organizations will also have booths: The Exchange’s Art Cart will provide a hands-on activity for kids of all ages, using simple materials – many of them recycled – to help bring out the beauty inside each person, and the Fishing Creek Watershed Association will host its annual container-garden contest.  Other non-profits greeting visitors will include the Bloomsburg Public Library, the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum, Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, Columbia-Montour Action Together, the River Poets, The Women’s Center, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, Cats in Bloom, and the Columbia County Historical and Genealogical Society.  Local and regional musicians who will perform throughout the day include Raven Creek Bluegrass, Kat Holdren, Prairie Dogma, and the Kerry Kenny Band.  In addition, attendees will find great food from local and regional vendors – Project Pizza Company, The Gingham Table, Fourth Taco, Heier’s Home Cooking, Dida’s Incredible Edibles, and more.

In its open, friendly, and highly-visible location, ArtFest attracts thousands of attendees, among them Bloomsburg University students and their parents in town on the last move-in weekend before the semester starts.  Downtown Bloomsburg has plenty of parking; meters require payment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and in addition to coins one can now also pay through the PANGO app: To sign up, go to mypango.com.

Downtown Blooomsburg, Inc. (DBI), the non-profit organization devoted to the betterment of Bloomsburg’s downtown commercial district, founded ArtFest in 2009; The Exchange, the non-profit that operates a Main Street Gallery and produces music events, has produced ArtFest since 2016; and the Town of Bloomsburg has provided the venue and support services each year.  DBI and The Exchange thank the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau for their support of ArtFest; the event also receives support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

For more information about Downtown Bloomsburg, visit DowntownBloomsburg.org.

For more information about The Exchange and ArtFest, visit ExchangeArts.org and Facebook.com/BloomsburgArtFest or call 570-317-2596.

First Columbia Bank & Trust Photo Contest Returns

Berwick, PAFirst Columbia Bank & Trust Co. will host their second annual Photography Competition on Sunday, October 15th, 2023 at the Berwick First Presbyterian Church, 320 Market St., Berwick, PA. The Bank is a proud supporter of local artists and art programs within the local community and looks forward to spotlighting these talented individuals at the competition.

The contest features local photographers who reside or study within a 50 mile radius of any First Columbia Bank location. The competition is free to enter. Both amateur and professional photographers are encouraged to participate along with students enrolled at local universities. Participants under the age of 18 will require a parental consent form. Entry packets can be picked up at any First Columbia Bank location beginning on August 1st, 2023 or downloaded at https://www.firstcolumbiabank.com/contest-rules to be dropped off at any branch location. The deadline for submissions is Friday, September 29th, 2023.

Categories are as follows: Animals/ Wildlife, Flowers, Close Up/Macro, Nature/Landscape and Black & White. Photographers may enter a maximum of three (3) photographs per category to be judged. Photographs must be the original work of the photographer and captured within the last 3 years. Employees of First Columbia Bank & Trust Co. and any family members living in their household are not eligible. Digital image submissions and questions regarding the competition should be e-mailed to photos@firstcolumbiabank.com.

AWARDS

The following awards will be presented at 5:00 PM on Sunday, October 15th, 2023:

  • Overall Best in Show: $125
  • First Place in each category: $100
  • Second Place in each category: $50
  • Third Place in each category: $25
  • Honorable Mention: Ribbon Only

People’s Choice: Ribbon Only

Four Children’s Museums Partner on Summer Passport Program

The Bloomsburg Children’s Museum has partnered with Lykens Valley Children’s Museum, Lewisburg Children’s Museum, and the Discovery Center for the Heart of PA Children’s Museum summer passport program.

Visit all four Heart of PA Children’s Museums this summer and be entered into a prize drawing!

Visit each museum before August 31st, 2023, and receive a stamp on your card. Once you collect all the stamps, leave your card at the last museum you visited. Prizes will be drawn on September 8th.

“We love teaming up with like-minded organizations, so when the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum reached out to us about their passport idea, we just loved the idea. Summer is the perfect time to kick-off a family passport program and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it. This passport will encourage families from outside of our community to come explore the  Lykens Valley Children’s Museum (LVCM) and other local businesses. Families will come and see what we have to offer, not just for summer, but all year round. This is a win-win for our community, museum and our local businesses. We are always looking for ways to serve our community better and the children’s museum summer passport was an easy choice,” said Lisa Ditty,  Director, Lykens Valley Children’s Museum

Passport cards can be picked up at any participating Children’s Museum, the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau or the Susquehanna River Valley Visitors Bureau.

“All of these children’s museums are wonderful tourist destinations for our region. We hope that this program encourages families to take road trips this summer and visit all of them to see the amazing things each one has to offer,” said Dr. Ginny Weibel, Director Bloomsburg Children’s Museum.

Briggs Farm Blues Festival Just Around the Corner!

The 2023 Briggs Farm Blues Festival is just around the corner! Music-lovers from far and wide are packing their coolers, getting ready for world-class music, and planning time well spent with friends and family!

“The Best Weekend of the Year” is happening July 6th, 7th, and 8th on the rolling hills of Briggs Farm in Briggsville, Pa. And while Briggs Farm Blues Festival has grown into the largest blues festival in Pennsylvania, its down-home feel remains. Everyone is friends at Briggs Farm. Two stages with over 20 international and regional acts will ignite the calm country air for a weekend of grass underfoot, campfires, and celebrating the long balmy nights of summer together.

Bringing world-class music to the region has kept the heart of Briggs Farm Blues Festival beating into its 26th year. Briggs Fest founder and president Richard Briggs states, “I grew up in the era of The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, those sounds stem directly from the blues, it’s America’s unique music.” And Briggs Farm has turned into a unique festival with strong musical lineups and a dedicated crowd that keeps coming back to hear a mix of old and new styles of ever evolving blues music. Briggs Farm Blues Festival continues to be the summer’s premier festival destination for people up and down the east coast and beyond.

Two stages rock throughout the festival. The Main Stage Lineup follows:

The headliner for Saturday, July 8th is Robert Randolph, a true rock star and a virtuosos on the pedal steel guitar. When Randolph jumped from the church and spiritual music into the secular music world, he found an audience among blues fans. Rolling Stone included him in their list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Bywater Call is a 7-piece powerhouse of southern soul and roots rock. Raw emotion, strong musicianship, and the intention to create a moving experience for listeners remains the driving force behind this bands passion and unforgettable stage presence. Eddie 9V is a blues-soul firebrand, full of electricity and scorching energy. He’s known for his proud allegiance to back-to-basics-blues as he evokes Memphis soul that manages to sound both lovingly vintage and positively modern.

Jackie Venson is a guitar revolution. Her iconoclastic style blends synthpop, electronic prog, rock, jazz, and blues. Jackie Venson lights the future of blues music in a modern style that recalls decades, if not centuries, of the past. She’s a hard-to-explain phenomenon of pure cosmic energy.

The headliner for Friday, July 7th is none other than Victor Wainwright & The Train. Anyone who loves a show packed full of honky-tonk and boogie with a healthy dose of rolling thunder will love this high energy performance!

Joanna Connor, one of the most influential guitarists on the planet, is aggressive, edgy, and innovative. See blues rock take on many forms under her expert guidance and incomparable control (and lack of it).

Super Chikan comes straight out of Clarksdale, Mississippi to deliver Delta Blues in all its grand tradition and glory. Steeped in the culture of blues history, his family lineage makes him music royalty. Super Chikan says it best, “I don’t sing the blues, I am the blues.”

RL Boyce is a master of Mississippi Hill Country Blues. He has 50 years of playing, singing, and living the blues under his cap. He’s known far and wide as “King of Hill Country Boogie.” RL Boyce’s style is effortless and transcendent. He’s a living legend.

While the Main Stage is rockin’, the intimate Back Porch Stage burns along side it with international and regional talent. The Back Porch Lineup follows:

Friday July 7th: Brandon Santini, Justin Mazer, Craig Thatcher and Nyke Van Wyk, New Moon Acoustic Blues, Uptown Music Collective.

Saturday July 8th: Ghalia Volt, R.L Boyce, Benny Turner, Old Man Mojo.

Thursday, July 6th, kicks the festival off with a “pre-party” from the intimate Back Porch Stage. It’s a great way to break into the easy summer mood of a world-class music festival. Thursdays music begins at 6pm and kicks off with Doug McMinn, a local favorite who plays the gamut from Chicago to Texas blues to New Orleans and more. Next up is the Clarence Spady Band. Clarence Spady is a musical giant here in NEPA, everyone who sees him becomes a die hard fan of his sophisticated style. The headliner for Thursday is the wild and unpredictable Scott Pemberton. A repeat offender at Briggs Farm, Scott Pemberton’s unorthodox approach to the guitar creates an utterly unique and powerful experience that harkens back to the days of 90’s grunge rock, progressive funk and deep blues delivered improv style. Every show is an entirely new experience.

Clarence Spady

Briggs Farm Blues Festival is just a few miles off Interstate 80 and 30 minutes from Wilkes Barre and 25 minutes Bloomsburg. On-site camping, a sprawling vendor marketplace, a variety of delicious food, and beer sales from Berwick Brewing round out this unique destination. Patrons can bring in their own beverages (no glass bottles), coolers, and snacks. Free Parking, kids 12 and under are free. Tickets for the event are on sale now and are available at the gate day-of-show. More information and ticket purchasing options can be found at briggsfarm.com. For more information, call: 570-379-3342.

Last Chance to Get Your Beeroes Collaboration!

by Nancy Bishop

Well, it was time to hit the trail again. My beer loving companions have been anxious to try Super Beeroes ever since they first heard about this year’s River Rat Brew Trail special brew.

And according to them, it was well worth the trip. They pronounced Super Beeroes, the special brew that nine of the 15 breweries on the River Rat Brew trail collaborated to make in April led by Rusty Rail Head Brewer Logan Powell, “excellent.” Collaborators were Lost MineD, Rusty Rail, Rock God, Eclipse, Jackass, Hidden Stories, Covered Bridge, Old Forge and Marley’s.

The brew is a hazy pale ale made of white wheat, flaked oats, Hornindal Kveik yeast, Pale 2Row malt and Citra and Cascade hops. But Powell told us when we stopped at Rusty Rail that it’s been very popular since it was released in late May and supplies are limited. You need to get out there now if you’re going to get some before it’s gone.

Joanne liked the citrusy flavor. She said the citrus was a “prominent flavor, but not overbearing.” Both she and Sally, my other brew trail companion, were very happy to go home with cans of Super Beeroes.

Stuffed after lunch from Rusty Rail’s tasty menu – chicken salad sandwiches for Sally and me, a Caprese salad in a spinach wrap with a side of Rusty Rail’s delicious potato salad for Joanne — we headed to Jackass Brewery, to earn a second stamp on the River Rat Brew Trail passport.

Lunch was delicious!

Wanting something to compare the Super Beeroes to, Joanne chose a citrus-flavored IPA that was on the Jackass list that day. While she said it had a “light, refreshing citrus flavor,” she quickly added that she liked Super Beeroes better. Sally decided to try one of the Jackass hard seltzers – strawberry lemonade – which she found very refreshing after sharing an order of Jackass’ housemade potato chips, which had a nice spicy kick.

And you still have time to hit the last one of the special Happy Hours that are being held at the breweries, Wednesday, June 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Rock God Brewing Company in Danville. There will be $5 drafts and a pool tournament, along with a variety of prize giveaways including a code for a free trail passport. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a long day and enjoy some delicious local brews.

But before you go, get your passport for the 2023 River Rat Brew Trail, which features 15 breweries in five counties and runs through Oct. 31. If you have the passport and visit all 15 breweries, you’ll earn prizes once you finish.

What are you waiting for? The Super Beeroes brew won’t be around forever!

Are You a Super Beero? New Collaboration Brew Revealed

by Nancy Bishop

It didn’t take long for my beer trail traveling companions to call and ask when we were going to hit the Trail after they heard about this year’s Super Beeroes theme.

But it was only early March. I reassured them that I wouldn’t forget my loyal beer friends when it came time to visit the breweries on the River Rat Brew Trail, but I didn’t tell them that there’s a special beer being brewed that will be offered at the breweries this year.

And I certainly didn’t tell them that I was about to attend a meeting in late March at Jackass Brewing Company where the nine breweries collaborating on the special brew would develop the recipe for it. Or the brewing day in April at Rusty Rail Brewing Company that I’d also be at.

But the word is out now and the Super Beeroes brew is fermenting in the tanks at Rusty Rail, so I can tell my friends and you about it.

At the first meeting, owners and brewers from Lost Mine-d, Rusty Rail, Rock God, Eclipse, Jackass, Hidden Stories and Covered Bridge, led by Rusty Rail Head Brewer Logan Powell, talked in detail about the kind of yeast, malt, hops and grains – and the amount of each — that would go into the brew. Also participating in the collaboration are Old Forge and Marley’s.

Brewers discuss plans for the new brew at Jackass Brewing Company in March.

The group was lively and enjoying each other’s company, but most of the conversation was over my head, I must admit. I would have been more at home talking about the ingredients in a recipe for my homemade brownies that people tell me are the “best-ever”!

By the end of the meeting (and in time for a delicious lunch at Jackass), the group had decided the special Super Beeroes brew would be a hazy pale ale made of white wheat, flaked oats, Hornindal Kveik yeast, Pale 2Row malt and Citra and Cascade hops.

Citra hops I learned are the new “darling” of hops for craft beers. Developed in 2008, Citra, as its name implies, gives a citrusy flavor hinting of grapefruit and tropical fruits.

In mid-April it was time to put it all together at Rusty Rail. The process began at 7 a.m. when the first batch of mash was mixed up in one of their huge vats. Mash, I learned, is the process of soaking the grains in hot water to hydrate them, convert the starches in the grain to fermentable sugars, and activate the malt. Once the right temperature was reached, brewer Will Warick of Rusty Rail, with folks from the other breweries in the collaboration taking turns helping, moved the liquid, called “Wort,” into another tank where a process of spinning the wort called lautering or sparging took place.

Larry Winans, Co-Owner of Jackass Brewing Company, shovels grain mash.

Then it was time to shovel the spent mash out of the first tank to get it cleaned and ready for the next batch. The spent mash I learned goes to local farmers to use as cattle feed. Some of it also goes to make dog treats. So, it’s an environmentally friendly recycling process!

After about 2 hours, the wort was ready to go to the fermenting tank where the yeast would be added. Before that happened, I got a chance to taste the wort. It was citrusy and a little sweet. Can’t wait to taste the finished product when it’s finished in mid-May. It will be available to purchase at the breweries in the collaboration, either on draft or in a six-pack to take home.

Don’t miss out this year! Get a Super Beeroes Trail Passport and start visiting. I have mine! The 2023 River Rat Brew Trail features 15 breweries in five counties and runs through October 31. There will be prizes to be claimed after you hit all 15 breweries.

And be sure to check out the “What Kind of a River Rat Are You” page when you visit the website. Bet you can’t guess what River Rat I am! (Hint: Think “words on a page.”)

River Rat Brew Trail Passports On Sale April 7

The River Rat Brew Trail Passport is back for another round! This year, transcend beyond the average craft beer drinker and become a “Superbeero” craft brew aficionado. With the most participating breweries EVER, this year’s trail is a can’t miss event! The 2023 trail features fifteen super brewers across five counties, and will run from April 7 through October 31. As you tour each location along the Trail, be sure to check-in using your digital passport to verify your visit. No purchase is necessary, but we think you’ll want to try some of the delicious craft creations on tap along the way. Passports can be purchased starting at NOON on Friday, April 7th by visiting riverratbrewtrail.com.

Upon completion of all the brewery stops on your passport, you will be eligible to receive your 2023 Trail prize. This year, final prizes will include a set of fifteen limited-edition magnets (featuring designs from each brewery), as well as your choice of a Superbeero-themed hoodie or t-shirt and winter beanie combo. Break out those superbeero six packs and hit the trail!

New: Enhanced Trail Experience Package

BRAND NEW THIS YEAR! Become Superbeero royalty and sign on for the Enhanced River Rat Experience this year! This enhanced package is limited to only 50 craft beer lovers and includes a 2023 passport PLUS a seat at the table for the star of this amazing experience: a multi-course dinner (appetizer, soup, salad, entrée, and dessert) where each course is paired with a craft beer presented by five of our stellar breweries.

Your next-level exbeerience for the evening will start with a mini-reception where you can mix and mingle with fellow craft beer enthusiasts, the brewers who will be showcased during the meal, and the producers of the River Rat Brew Trail. Next, you’ll be escorted to the Great Room to begin your multi-course craft brew dinner. Each course will showcase a new beer presented by the brewer and you will get a complimentary tasting glass for your night to remember.

After dinner, your VIP evening gets even better, with an exclusive tour of Rusty Rail Brewing Company which will showcase their event and dining space, PLUS a tour of the brewery below the dining room AND a tour of their stunning overnight accommodations. And who knows, there may be some extra bling and swag thrown your way to help remember your evening of fun [so we hear from a reliable rat resource].

And speaking of their stunning overnight accommodations, for this event only – and exclusive to the 50 craft brew dinner guests – Rusty Rail Brewing Company is offering a sweet discount on their sleeping rooms for Friday night: $171 for a King Room [the value of this room is $295]. Upon purchase of your RRBT Craft Beer Dinner/Passport Package, you will get a confirmation email with complete instructions to book your room, Oh and by the way, there are only 9 rooms available at this rate so the early rat gets the cheese!

With only 50 seats at the dinner table and 9 sleeping rooms as part of this amazing evening, think fast and purchase your tickets now. This craft brew dinner experience offers the ultimate “date night” for craft brew loving couples, an awesome gift for your craft beer loving friend or family member, or a night to give you and your friends the ultimate craft beer TLC. This evening is made to order for all of our River Rat SuperBeeroes out there!

Passport holders must be 21 years of age or older to participate. Only one passport per person. No refunds or returns will be accepted for this product.

2023 Covered Bridge Photo Contest Returns!

Covered Bridge Photo Contest & Puzzles

Each year, the Visitors Bureau holds a photo contest to produce a 550-piece puzzle featuring one of the area covered bridges. Limited-edition puzzles have been produced the past ten years and have featured the East & West Paden bridges (multiple times), the Knoebels Bridge, Keefer Mills Bridge, Esther Furnace Bridge, Stillwater Bridge, Josiah Hess Bridge, Rupert Bridge, Kramer Bridge, a special Twin Bridges 10th Anniversary Puzzle, and most recently, the Wanich Bridge.  The 2022 edition of the puzzle will be released this fall, and will be based on the winner of this year’s photo contest.

– 2023 PHOTO CONTEST – 

The 2023 Covered Bridge Photo Contest runs from Saturday, April 1st through Wednesday, May 31st at midnight EST. We’re excited to see another fantastic set of entries from everyone!

How to Enter:

  1. Email your photos to skiefer@cmvb.com within the dates above. MUST INCLUDE photographer’s name & name of bridge in the photo’s title (Example: RupertBridge_Joe Smith_2023.jpg)
  2. OR post your photo on Instagram using #CMVBPuzzle2023. MUST INCLUDE: Photographer’s name & Bridge featured. If selected as a finalist, you will be contacted for a high quality version of your Instagram submission.

Rules and Regulations:

  1.  Entry to the contest is FREE.
  2.  All photos must be of bridges located within Columbia or Montour County. For a map/list of the bridges, please click here.
  3.  All photos must be owned by the person submitting them. By submitting, you are giving the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau permission to use your photo as their 2023 puzzle and in future marketing efforts for the contest and for the counties.
  4.  Photos entered in prior year’s contests ARE still eligible for entry into this year’s contest.
  5.  All photos must be high-resolution (at least 1500 pixels on shortest side).
  6.  A max of four photos per person will be accepted.

The top overall photo will be selected by the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau to be featured as the 2023 Covered Bridge Puzzle. The winning photographer will have their name and a short bio published on the puzzle box. The winner will also receive a free puzzle and will be announced to local press outlets.

Renaissance Jamboree Returns to Downtown Bloomsburg

BLOOMSBURG — March 24th, 2023 — The Renaissance Jamboree festival returns to the downtown of Bloomsburg on Saturday, April 29th after a four-year absence. The event will be held on Main Street from 10 AM – 5 PM.

For over 42 years, residents from all over Northeast PA have gathered and celebrated Spring’s return at the annual Renaissance Jamboree in Bloomsburg.  “The festival was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 and had to move its location in 2022 due to a penn-DOT paving project.  We are excited to announce the return of Renaissance Jamboree to Main Street in downtown Bloomsburg” said Cindy Schultz, Renaissance Jamboree committee co-chair.

Festival highlights include the return of the popular band, Joyous, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble’s Theater in the Classroom performance of “Park Protectors: The Story of the Buffalo Soldiers and the National Park Service”,  children’s entertainers, pony rides and more.

Festival goers can still expect for the Festival to boast more than 160 arts/crafts vendors and regional non-profit organization booths alongside live music, dance, and special performances. Additionally, food trucks will donate a portion of their sales to local non-profit partners.

Parking will be at the West end parking lot of the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds (enter Gate 2 and look for the Renaissance Jamboree signs) & the front parking lot of the Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital.  A free shuttle bus will run from those lots to the downtown for the festival. Visit www.renaissancejamboree.org for more information and a complete schedule of entertainment and vendors. The annual Renaissance Jamboree is the largest event co-sponsored by Downtown Bloomsburg Inc., the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, Bloomsburg University, Program Board of Bloomsburg University, the Town of Bloomsburg, and the Renaissance Jamboree Committee.

Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble Announces Summer Auditions

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. – BTE is pleased to announce an audition date for this summer’s ‘Dragons Love Tacos.’ Auditions for children and teens ages 8 to 18 will be held on April 15th at the Alvina Krause Theatre, 226 Center Street, Bloomsburg. The doors will open at 9:30 am, and auditions begin at 10:00 am.

‘Dragons Love Tacos’ is a playful and funny family show. BTE is looking for two casts of community kids for a variety of roles. Everyone auditioning must prepare a 30-second funny pantomime of any activity of their choosing. Make the actions and choices very clear—the bigger, the better! Everyone should also be prepared to show their favorite dance moves (dragons love dancing… and tacos, of course). Callbacks will be held at 1:00 pm the same afternoon. Cast members must be available for afternoon and evening rehearsals beginning May 30th and for performances running from July 6th through July 23rd. More information can be found at www.bte.org/summer. Any questions can be emailed to the Director, Amy Rene Byrne, at amyrenebyrne@gmail.com.

To audition for the play, potential cast members must have had their first COVID vaccination by the audition date and must present their vaccine card upon registering that morning. Everyone cast in the show will be required to be fully vaccinated by the beginning of rehearsals on May 30th. BTE follows the current CDC guidance on what constitutes ‘fully vaccinated’ per age group. Founded in 1978 as an artist driven, community-based resident ensemble, BTE creates innovative work with local and national impact. Today, BTE produces a lively mix of classic and contemporary plays and original theatre education programs for all ages. For more information about our shows and programs, please see www.bte.org.