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Take the ‘road less traveled’ with the PA Wilds Artisan Trail

By Staff | Aug 26, 2015

PHOTO BY BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Outreach coordinator Tina Johns Solak from the PA Wilds Artisan Trail gave a presentation at Wolf Run Village on the impact and benefits of becoming part of this economic boost of home made items. She is holding a bottle of soda made in Kane, PA and a bowl constructed from sawdust.

HUGHESVILLE – On Friday, August 21 a presentation was given at Wolf Run Village on how local artisans can make an important, economic impact to the local region.

A non-profit, The Pennsylvania Wilds Artisans Trail was created in 2006 and includes 12 counties carved out of the Lumber Heritage Region. Representing the organization was Tina Johns Solak who brought along some unique, one of a kind, hand made items designed and created from arts related businesses within the central PA region. According to Solak any single artist or food producer can apply to become a trail site. “It is great for small batch producers, artists, independent retailers and other creative entrepreneurs.”

There has been significant growth since its inception which will only accept juried artists and high quality products that will draw traffic to local galleries and retail shops. Solak who is an outreach specialist for PAWilds and came from Cameron County, explained the benefits of becoming a trail site.

There are currently six sites in Lycoming County on the map, while other counties have up to 60. Solak would like to let local artisans know that for a nominal fee more can easily be added just by completing the application on their website at www.pawildartisans.com. There is a time frame for selection (fall and spring), however, the application can be completed anytime.

Holding up a bottle of home made soda from Kane, PA, Solak also explained about the willingness to bring in local food growers, and those who make food products. “We will accommodate local products,” she said. “It can be honey, apple butter, maple syrup, or someone who does amazing cakes.”

Tracy Schultz, head administrator for Wolf Run Village in Hughesville said, “We have 900 feet of blank wall space for flat art and cases for 3D art displays.” Also the retail areas of the local artists will be added in the visitors centers for the traveling public.

It becomes part of a branding process and will help grow this area’s nature and heritage tourism industry. Products display signage and a logo that says “Proudly Made in the PA Wilds.”

The Pennsylvania Wilds has also established a center for entrepreneurship hoping to attract more youth and inspire the next generation about opportunities in their own back yard. “We are doing programs in high schools to let them know about jobs here such as CNA’s and tool and dye makers.” They may not necessarily need a 4 year degree to open up a shop, but required technical training.

“It is a licensing program, and your logo becomes trademarked property,” explained Solak. However, that brand, Made Here in Pennsylvania will attract visitors. Public art is becoming very popular and often it reflects the character of the region.

There are brews and breweries, wineries, galleries, murals, design artists and craftsmen, visual artists and renaissance artists. The traveling public can “Take Home A Piece of the Pennsylvania Wilds.”

A complete list of the trail sites can be found at www.pawildsartisans.com. The next juried deadline is September 21, 2015. According to Solak, the juried selection is done twice a year, but the application process can be completed anytime. The next deadline will be in April. “The work is evaluated on artistic merit, design and sourcing.” More than one art medium can be juried into the application.

There are also events scheduled to assist in more product recognition. A barbecue cook off will be held the last week of September and the judging will be on home made barbecues reported Solak. “Every county should consider doing this,” she added. Elk County had an arts festival and Cameron County does a Christmas in the Wilds Show. “It’s a way to tie in our regional tourism elements.”