Thursday, July 6, 2017
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The Wick Avenue reconstruction project isn’t quite finished, but the Summer Festival of the Arts is ready to go.
The annual event at Youngstown State University this weekend will feature at least 75 regional artists showing and selling their work, an excellent and diverse musical lineup that is at once familiar and unique, and a host of other delights and surprises both on campus and off.
As for the closed Wick Avenue – that shouldn’t be an issue. Lori Factor, director of the SFA, suggests festival-goers park either in the surface-level stadium lots along Fifth Avenue or the Wick Avenue deck, which can be accessed only via Walnut Street, just past the MVR Restaurant (GPS directions: 100 E. Wade St., Youngstown, 44502). A foot bridge crosses Wick Avenue from the parking deck and leads directly to the SFA area.
Other events this weekend in the center city that will run concurrently with, or immediately after, the SFA are:
The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Summerfest, Thursday through Sunday, 220 N. Walnut St., with live music and dancing, Greek food and pastries, and a display of cultural memorabilia. Hours: Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free.
All AmeriCon comic book, toy and art convention, Covelli Centre. Hours: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. More than a hundred dealer and vendor tables and several special guests from the comic industry. Admission is $10 per day.
The Fabulous Flashbacks, 7 p.m., $10. Popular pop band will reunite for a concert on Central Square.
Youngstown Wine and Jazz, with featured artist Alex Bugnon, Saturday, (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) on Central Square. Tickets are $10.
2 DE Gospel Fest, featuring headliner Israel Houghton and New Breed, Sunday, July 9, at Central Square (gates open at 2 p.m.). Tickets are $20, $40 and $60 and may be purchased in advance at 2deepevents.com, by phone at 330-953-3340, and at the gate.
The Summer Festival of the Arts, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and features free admission, will begin with an opening ceremony with YSU President Jim Tressel – who will be part of a ballroom dance exhibition shortly after at the Butler Institute of American Art. Tressel and his wife will take a tango lesson from dance instructors Annette Burden and Tony Scheppler at noon, which will be followed by the dance exhibition at 1 p.m.
Music is always a big part of the SFA, and Factor is very pleased with this year’s lineup.
“The groups we have are resonating with the community and have proven track records but are still new enough,” she said.
Acts include J.D. Eicher, Demos Papadimas and his band, Radio Lark, the Sensations, Rachell Joy, Ye Jazzy Gents, Conjunto Riqueno, Leo D’Angelo, Justin Randall Quartet, County Mayo, Brian Bonhomme and polka band the Zaps.
“JD Eicher is a perennial at the SFA and he increase our integrity,” said Factor. “We’ve had him for a decade, and his music is now known beyond the area, but he always takes the time to come back.”
Bonhomme, a history professor at YSU, was a member of ’80s British rock band Roman Holiday.
In the Ward Beecher Planetarium, the shows will include “Totality,” which is about the total solar eclipse, a subject that is of special interest this year because an eclipse will be visible in the United States on Aug. 21.
The heart and soul of the festival, if not the the entire weekend, remains the artists.
The curated village of artists provide an opportunity to purchase unique and quality pieces in all price ranges.
“Some people come back every year looking to add a piece to their collection of work from a particular artist,” said Factor.