The grounds of Harlan Rowe Middle School buzzed with activity Friday afternoon as artisans, food vendors and organizations began to set up for this year's Athens ArtsFest.

Event organizers and student helpers spent the day setting up for the 14th annual event, which kicks off Saturday morning. The festival, which began with a small selection of artisans in 1999, has expanded to include over 120 artisans, demonstrations, performances, a food court and entertainment over two days.

ArtsFest will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, with activities both inside the school and on the lawn. A shuttle bus will be available starting at noon both days to take visitors from the Athens Area High School parking lot to the festival grounds, according to event organizers.

Local and regional crafters will display their handmade works in a juried art show. Judges will choose winners in several categories, including two-dimensional art, clay, crafts, food, fabric, glass, jewelry, metal, mixed medium, painting, photography and wood. The festival will also feature a display of student artwork.

The Athens Area High School Band Boosters will hold its photography contest for the third year. This year, approximately $1,000 in prizes will be awarded in five categories - landscape, portrait, object, nature and pets - as well as a Best of Show grand prize.

Professionals will judge the photos Saturday afternoon, and votes from attendees will be tallied Sunday afternoon.

Those still interested in participating can submit their photos through 1 p.m. Sunday at the AAHS Band Booster table in front of the auditorium. All photos must be 8 by 10 inches in a black frame, and identifying information must be placed on the back of each entry.

ArtsFest also promises a variety of musical entertainment on both days, with three stages to host performers. Saturday's performances include acoustic rock, zydeco, classic rock, bluegrass and brass swing bands, as well as the Penn-York Highlanders bagpipe band and Athens Area High School ensembles. The Sayre High School forensics team will perform in the auditorium at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Sunday's schedule features performances from bluegrass band The Gospel Way, the Nate and Kate show for children, contemporary country artist and AAHS graduate Justin Raynor, classic rock band The Rockets and performer Digger Jones. Garrett Ulmer, Chris McCarty and Corey Shiposh will take the east stage Sunday, with open mic times scheduled for 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Several other activities will be offered all weekend, including chainsaw sculptures, horse and buggy rides, a children's activity corner and an antique car show.

The AAHS Future Business Leaders of America chapter will host a bungee race and bounce house, the Future Farmers of America will sponsor a petting zoo, Aktion KWEST will set up its miniature golf course, and the high school freshman class will hold goldfish races.

ArtsFest will again play home to a chess challenge where participants take on Alex Dunne, a World Chess Federation Master. Those who beat Dunne will take home a chess set.

Several authors will also be in attendance. Author Richard Mickelson will be available both days to sign copies of his book, "The Wizard of Oz, Where Is He Now?," an imagined sequel to the classic adventure taken by Dorothy and Toto, according to a release.

The event also features a 16-vendor food court with festival favorites including cheesesteaks, spiedies, crab cakes, sausage, gyros, funnel cakes, kettle corn and shaved ice.

For more information on Athens ArtsFest, visit or the festival's Facebook page.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: