Some liken it to “Brigadoon,” the mythical town that reawakens once every hundred years.
But in Mount Gretna, it is an annual miracle. Every year, during the third weekend of August, this community of some 700 homes and cottages suddenly springs to life, welcoming 285 artists chosen through juried competition and 20,000 visitors who—by their presence—acknowledge the role that art plays in their homes, hearts, and lives.
And every year, as thousands of art show patrons return, many others discover Mount Gretna for the first time. For everyone who comes, it is a return to an earlier era: to a time when neighbors greeted neighbors from their front porches, when going for ice cream meant going for a stroll rather than getting into an automobile, and when life itself pulsed at a rocking chair pace.
The idea for an art show—originally an occasion for Mount Gretna’s resident artists to display their works on the historic grounds of The Pennsylvania Chautauqua—began 35 years ago. As the show has grown, so has the enthusiasm of about 200 volunteers—most residing in the seven distinctive neighborhoods that, municipal boundaries notwithstanding, make up the area most call “Mount Gretna.” Surrounded by hills and protected woodlands, it is a setting where artists, writers, musicians, and other talented inhabitants thrive year ’round, nurtured by an atmosphere of contemplative calm.