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Yorkfest weekend: Turtles, time capsules and DIY guitars

Sean Philip Cotter
  • Yorkfest, the Cigar Box Festival and all the events that coexist with them are happening Aug. 27-28.

The last weekend in August will bring to York City music, art, cigar-box guitars and little rubber turtles.

That's the weekend the annual Yorkfest Fine Arts Festival and the Cigar Box Guitar Festival likely will bring a solid 20,000 people downtown, if the weather cooperates, organizers say.

Yorkfest will close down the 200 and 300 blocks of West Market Street and the surrounding blocks of Pershing Avenue for much of the day on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 27 and 28, filling the area up with arts, music, food and vendors.

"It’s a great way to celebrate the end of summer," said Mary Yeaple, who York City contracted to organize the event.

Among the highlights from the long list of events will be a free jazz concert at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m. Saturday, and Creative York's pavilion with a petting zoo and interactive art around the intersection of Market and Pershing. Most of the festivities are planned from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

More than 100 artists from around the country will present their work in the area, and food will be available from several stands and food trucks. Local artist Brenda Wintermyer is the featured artist; her work includes the painting being used in all the promotional material for the event.

Time capsule: Unique to this year's celebration is a time capsule, which will be unveiled at Yorkfest. The city is looking for items to be put into the capsule, which is slated to be sealed at the city's annual tree-lighting ceremony in December, Yeaple said. The capsule is expected to be reopened in 25 years.

"It’ll be opened up when York celebrates its 300th birthday," Yeaple said.

Another addition this year is remote parking. The city has a deal with the York branch of Harrisburg Area Community College, so people wanting to come downtown for this event can park for free in HACC's parking lot, at 2010 Pennsylvania Ave. in the city's Colony Park area. A shuttle will run people from that area into the city and back, starting at 9:30 a.m. both days and stopping at 5 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.

Yorkfest's featured artist is  Brenda Wintermyer; the is her painting "City Alive."

Also Saturday, the annual Cigar Box Guitar Festival will be held in the 300 block of West Market Street, which will be closed that afternoon. Fourteen musical acts will play folk, rock and blues on their homemade guitars on stages around The York Emporium bookstore, according to the free event's Facebook page.

Turtle derby: Big Brothers Big Sisters of York & Adams Counties will take advantage of the fact that the Market Street bridge will be closed by Yorkfest. The organization plans to run its turtle derby at 2 p.m. Sunday, when they will dump as many as 2,000 little rubber turtles into the Codorus Creek, according to Michael Smith, the organization's executive director.

People can buy a turtle to race; the person whose turtle floats the half-block down the creek to Foundry Park fastest gets  a $500 Visa card, with the second-place finisher receiving a piece of art from I-ron-ic and third getting an Amazon Fire tablet, he said.

The thousands of little turtles, which are in 16 boxes around the Big Brothers Big Sisters offices at 227 W. Market St., all look pretty gleeful about this prospect. They're wearing aviator shades and, of course, turtlenecks.

He said this hearkens back to the old March of Dimes fundraiser, which resulted in a bunch of rubber duckies floating down the creek.

"We started off with the duck idea," he said. But then the vendor had a special for buying the turtles, so Smith and company saw the opportunity to make the event their own.

As of Tuesday, people had shelled out money for about 1,000 turtles, which means there's about 1,000 left. Anyone can go to to buy one turtle for $5, six for $25, 50 for $200 or 100 for $350.

"The money will benefit our mentoring programs," Smith said.

— Reach Sean Cotter at or on Twitter at @SPCotterYD.