Sunny skies greeted Bloom Festival visitors and vendors Saturday as they ushered in the fifth annual Shippensburg Area Chamber of Commerce event.

“This year marked the 5th Annual Bloom Festival, and the second year the event was held in June,” Wendy Forrester of the chamber said. “For the first three years, the event was held in May, and Mother Nature didn't seem to be too kind as we had to contend with rain showers. After polling the vendors for feedback on the possibility of moving the event to June, the switch was made and Mother Nature seemed to be in agreement with the move. Even though the event is rain or shine, it definitely makes for a great day with blue skies, sunshine and a refreshing breeze like we had this year. We couldn't have asked for a better day!”

Forrester said attendance was up this year as hundreds of families flocked to town to enjoy the beautiful day and to see what Shippensburg has to offer.

“The attendance this year was outstanding. It was great to see so many people of different ages from adults to families with young children come out and visit the vendors, have something to eat and just enjoy the day outside. Kids had fun making free crafts offered by some of the vendors, as well as enjoyed the inflatables provided by Strouse Entertainment. Young children and even some adults ended up with incredible works of art painted on their faces, as well,” Forrester noted.

This year’s Bloom Festival boasted more than 64 vendors, which was an increase from last year. Forrester said the vendors were a nice mixture of local businesses, nonprofit organizations, plant/flower vendors and local artisans selling items such as wooden crafts, handmade jewelry, handmade soap and bath products, baked goods and food vendors selling yummy food to enjoy.

“We appreciate and thank every vendor that joined us this year, and we welcome them to return to us next year, so be sure to watch for the 2020 Bloom Festival event date,” she said.

In addition to the Bloom Festival, there were three other events happening very close by throughout the day, including D.O.I.T.’s Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest, the Shippensburg Public Library’s Duck Derby and the SCPRA/Shippensburg Station’s Battle of the Bagpipes.

“Having many events on the same day and within very close proximity made Shippensburg a happening place to be on June 8,” Forrester said. “All of the organizations partnered together by helping to cross-promote and support each other’s events and that is what community collaboration is all about.”

Landon Saunders, 2, of Shippensburg, enjoyed walking around with his Dad for his first visit to the festival, and was happy to check out the antique Cumberland Valley Hose fire engine parked at one end of the lot.

Jean Robinson of Memorial Lutheran Church said church members sold plants like crazy Saturday to help benefit the building fund.

“It’s a beautiful day today,” she noted, adding the church sold a variety of indoor and outdoor plants grown in the flowerbeds of many members.

Jennifer Eichelberger helped her sister, Katie, by running Katie’s booth for Sunflower Sweets. Jennifer said Katie has never done the Bloom Festival before, and added the turnout was really great. “The kids seemed to really like the cupcakes,” she said.

Sunflower Sweets offers a host of baked goods for every occasion, and Katie can even take special orders for gluten-free goodies.

Kit Kat Sparkles dipped her brush into glittery rainbow paint to create a Queen Elsa unicorn on Sophia Seiler’s forehead Saturday. When Kit Kat held her mirror up to Sophia’s face, Sophia’s eyes lit up in approval. She turned and beamed at her mother, Rae, to show her the masterpiece.

Rae said she and her husband brought Sophia, 4, and Henry, 22 months, for the second year in a row. They were in town from the Pittsburgh area visiting the kids’ grandparents.

“It’s a lot of fun for the kids,” she said of the Bloom Festival. “We came last year, and liked it, so we decided to come back.”

Ashley Kitzmiller of Robert T. Henry Pharmacy helped to man the table as area children and adults crafted colorful sand art necklaces, which were provided for free.

“It’s a very good turnout,” Kitzmiller said. “The weather is nice, and it’s just something fun to get out to do with the family.”

Kira Bohn, 11, of Fayetteville, stopped at the table to choose a necklace and place some vibrant purple sand inside to begin her creation.

“We were driving by and thought we would check it out,” her guardian, Mike Decker, said. “She likes doing crafty stuff, and this is something fun for the kids.”

“The first few years of the Bloom Festival went well considering we had to contend with showery weather, but the participation from vendors was still good,” Forrester said. “We've had vendors returning to the Bloom Festival consistently since the beginning, and there have also been some vendors joining us for the first time, which is always welcomed. We want this family-friendly event to continue to grow and to help encourage people to recognize Shippensburg as a destination area to visit year after year.”

The chamber would like to thank sponsor Gannon Associates Insurance who “bloomed” the chamber's front porch and Chamberlin & Wingert Sanitary Services for donating the comfort facilities. Special thanks to local government entities, police department, fire police and first responders for their assistance in making this event possible for the community.

For more information on Bloom Festival, visit: https://shippensburg.org/bloom-festival/

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