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Summer Fest perfect time to visit Youngstown's cultural gems

Explore Y'town's gems during Summer arts fest
Published: 12:02 AM, Thu July, 11 2019



The Summer Festival of the Arts means different things to different people.

For those who love to take in art, culture, music and theater in a festival atmosphere, it’s a tradition not to be missed.

For others, it’s a pleasant prelude to an evening of jazz and wine.

And many SFA visitors find themselves at the nearby St. Nicholas church festival, which features authentic Greek food and a street party atmosphere that extends into the night.

The Summer Festival of the Arts centers on the tree-lined Youngstown State University campus and is within walking distance of many nearby museums. That makes the festival an ideal opportunity to visit several of the city’s cultural gems in one day.

Numerous YSU departments will participate with activities and displays, including the McDonough Museum of Art, Maag Library, Ward Beecher Planetarium (which will offer five shows each day and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing), the Clarence R. Smith Mineral Museum and WYSU, among others.

Visitors can also visit the Butler Institute of American Art, where the National Midyear Exhibition is still on view; the Arms Family Museum; the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor (the steel museum), and two of the city’s grandest houses of worship.

The latter is part of a Pipe Organ Crawl that will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, and will visit Bliss Recital Hall (lower level of YSU’s Bliss Hall), St. Columba Cathedral and St. John’s Episcopal Church.

The one-hour walking tour will include a short talk and performance on the pipe organ at each venue by members of the American Guild of Organists. Two guides will lead the tour. Participants will meet in front of Maag Library, near the book sale (look for the big sign) between noon and 12:45 p.m.

A Mass Mob will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Columba Cathedral. Similar to a Cash Mob, where one business is selected to be supported through shopping and participation, a Mass Mob focuses on one church – its architecture, community, history and culture.

On Sunday, YSU’s Office of Alumni Engagement will host Ladies’ Day Out at 11 a.m. at the Williamson College of Business Administration atrium, featuring guest speaker Leah Merritt of the YWCA, a champagne brunch, artist door prizes and tours. Advance reservations ($25) for the event, which targets YSU alumnae and friends, are required. Go to

The centerpiece of the SFA remains the curated artists marketplace on the YSU campus, with booths and kiosks by 85 of the region’s and nation’s finest artists and artisans.

The more than 25 community arts and culture tents also located on the festival grounds will include an Authors’ Tent where published local authors will provide readings, book signings and public interaction.

The YSU Student Art Association will hold a silent auction featuring donated artwork from area artists.

Family activities are central to the SFA and include the popular hands-on art tent, where children are encouraged to create pieces of artwork under the guidance of a professional art teacher.

Dozens of music, theater and dance performances are also scheduled, including Pan Tropix Steel Drums, The Labra Brothers, Radio Lark, Beck-Ward Project, County Mayo, JD Eicher, Del Sinchak Band and Moustache Yourself.

The SFA will also include the Festival of Nations, an ethnic festival welcoming ethnic clubs and churches that offer ethnic memorabilia, performances and food.

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Summerfest, 220 N. Walnut St., will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

It will feature live music and dancing, Greek food and pastries, and a display of cultural memorabilia. Take out lunch service is available on Thursday and Friday from 11a.m. to 2 p.m.; call 330-743-5493.

Other off-campus events will include an art show at the YWCA from noon to 4 p.m. both days; a book sale at the main library branch on Wick Avenue from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; and family fun and crafts at the OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology.