Organizers Present Summer Festival of Arts at YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Summer Festival of the Arts Weekend, a long weekend that runs July 7 though 10, promises to be a venue that blends visual, musical, performing, culinary and oenophilic arts with large quantities of fun, organizers said Tuesday.

The weekend – this will be the 18th annual celebration of arts and culture in the city – “has helped propel other arts, cultural and civic events in Youngstown,” noted Cary Wecht, associate dean of the YSU College of Creative Arts & Communications.

Wecht was one of six speakers who addressed reporters about the significance of the summer festival that drew 13,000 visitors last year.

The arts appeal to and reinforce “our shared humanity,” she said, and the summer festival in Youngstown reflects the resilient economy of the city as well.

Mayor John A. McNally IV focused his remarks on the physical improvements to the YSU campus and adjoining neighborhoods, which the festival reflects. Work is scheduled to begin about the same time on Lincoln Avenue “and Wick Avenue later this summer,” McNally said.

More than “75 artists will make Youngstown their home that weekend,” said Lori Factor, YSU director of community engagement events and who’s coordinating the weekend. The growing number of artists who display their work and ever-larger number of visitors testify to the success and increasing popularity of the summer festival. “We’re proud to be the anchor event,” Factor said. “There’s plenty to do for everybody.” This includes face painting for the children.

Beyond the festival itself at Youngstown State University July 9 and 10, the four days consist of:

  • The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Summerfest to run all four days at the church, 220 N. Walnut St. Schedule: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 7, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 8 and 9, and noon to 6 p.m. July 10. Admission is free but there will be a charge for the meals served. Coordinator Socrates Kolitsos promised “tasting the absolute best in Greek food and pastries,” and musical entertainment from Ta Filarakia, Greek for “The Friends.”
  • The second annual Downtown Shutdown in Central Square July 8. Gates open at 7 p.m. Featured performers are the rock band The Clarks. Admission, $10.
  • The sixth annual Youngstown Wine and Jazz July 9 in Wick Avenue between Central Square and Commerce Street. Begins 7 p.m. Several wineries and breweries will run stands nearby. Tickets are $10 each to attend the concert by saxophonist Marion Meadows.
  • The second annual 2DE Gospel Fest 2K16 July 10 on the same stage in Wick Avenue. Gates open at 1 p.m. and Fred Hammond is the headliner. Tickets range in price from $20 to $65, according to the 2DeepEvents.com website.

After addressing the economic benefits of tourists who attend the arts festival and related events, Linda Macala announced that singer Tony Bennett will be at the Butler Institute of American Art to kick off an exhibit of his paintings that will be on display through mid-September.

To attend the reception in his honor from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 8, one must be a member of the Butler. Bennett’s works are open to the public July 9.

Bennett, who will turn 90 in August, “has been painting longer than he’s been singing,” Macala said. “He paints every day and continues to study with Charles Reid,” a watercolor master.

Bennett’s “Homage to [David] Hockney,” hangs in the permanent collection of The Butler.

The gospel festival on Sunday afternoon will feature performances from Six Singing Shepherds, Victory at Liberty Praise & Worship Team, Warren City Wide Youth Choir, The Emancipation Choir, Youngstown City Wide Youth Choir and Kingdom Dancers, organizer Terrill Vidale said, in addition to Hammonds, whom he described as “a gospel music icon.”

Said Vidale, “Church is fun. Gospel is fun.” The impetus behind the gospel festival, subtitled, “Breaking the Bread,” is to “bring all the religions together and break down barriers.”

CLICK HERE for more information about the festival.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.