SHAMOKIN - A trip to the Anthracite Heritage Festival of the Arts can mean many things. Eating, viewing displays, taking in some entertainment and maybe a little craft shopping.

For its ninth year, festival chairperson Jeanne Shaffer, executive director of the Northumberland County Council for the Arts and Humanities, tells patrons to be ready to do even more.

"This year's festival will be one of the most interactive we've ever put on," she said. "There will be more things to do than ever before."

From creating art or simply having fun in the kids zone, Shaffer says, like always, there will be something interesting to see around every turn.

For one, there will be more roving entertainers. Amber Amato, proprietor of the That Kitchen Witch food truck, from Lewisburg, was looking for a vendor spot at the festival, but fate will turn her into a roving entertainer instead.

"Amber will be a roving brownie mime," Shaffer said. "She will interact with everyone in addition to selling her brownies at the festival. I'm anxious to see her work."

For those wishing to be dazzled by the art of prestidigitation, magician Brent Kessler will be roaming the grounds, too, amazing patrons with his brand of close-up magic.

A full-time magician for the past 14 years, Kessler has performance his act and tricks for many corporate parties, at local restaurants and at Universal Studios Florida.

For those that fascinated by creatures that creep and crawl, the place to look will be on Chestnut Street when Ryan "The Bug Man" Bridge will bring some of his friends to the festival.

A 25-year volunteer with the York County 4-H Entomology Club, a program he started when he was 9, Bridge boasts a collection of over 150,000 insects and travels extensively to festivals and schools, showing others what nature has to offer through bugs.

All of them, along with the Mock Turtle Marionette Company, will be part of the new Kids Zone area of the festival, off of the Chestnut Street Extension. Kids Zone will not only feature these attractions, but also a bounce house, giant slide, dime pitch and other games.

Everyone will have a change to create some with the "handprint flag" project in the middle park plot of the festival.

Attendees will help make an American Flag with their handprints for a project called "This is U.S." The flag will be displayed with the Moving Vietnam Wall in Tharptown on May 29 to June 1.

In the same area, and running in conjunction with Shamokin's 150th Anniversary celebration, a wishing tree will be created.

Everyone will be invited to write their wish for the community and hang it on the tree.

"We have a number of new, family-oriented attractions for everyone to enjoy, and our old favorites too, like the carriage and trolley rides. For the last nine years, we have been working to promote this area and its heritage, and we keep finding bigger and better ways to do that."

Shaffer said that once this year's festival is done, plans will be in the works for next year's festival and another milestone.

"If this year is good, next year will be even better for the festival's 10th anniversary," she said.