ArtsFEST returns after 1-year hiatus

LEWISTOWN – Today marks the opening day of Lewistown’s ArtsFEST, which returns in full force this year after being cancelled in 2012.

After the disappointment of learning that last year’s festival would no occur, members of the community pulled together to alter the fate the festival’s uncertain future.

“Last year when we, as art teachers, became aware there would not be an Arts Festival, Joyce Picketts, my childrens’ art teacher and I had a discussion about making sure that the student art portion of the festival continue.Mifflin Juniata Arts Council President Angela Niman says.

Niman, her husband, Shane Niman, local art teachers, along with Sam Price from Community Partnerships RC&D, set about to ensure that the student art show would still happen.

“As we moved forward with this, I met with the Mifflin Juniata Arts Council to talk about this. During this time the council elected new officers and those of us who had worked on the student art project found ourselves in those position,” Niman said.

The arts festival has a history of more than 40 years. When the new council members took control of the event, they were faced with a series of important decisions.

“One of our biggest challenges was that we knew we couldn’t do the festival on the same scale as years past. We had been approached by several people asking us if we would consider moving the festival to downtown. We thought that since we were, in a lot of ways, making a ‘fresh start’ now would be the time for a move,” Niman said.

Niman said organizing this year’s festival has been a large learning experience that depended on the efforts of a small core group of people who are all relatively new to the arts council.

In addition to the Nimans, the core group responsible for this year’s fest is composed of Nancy Aurand, Nathaniel Thierwechter, Todd and Melissa Tabb, Joan Loewen, Jess Loewen, Jess Filson and Mark Knarr.

Niman also said it would not have been possible without the help of local kindergarten through ninth grade art teachers, Debbie Wilt and the Lumina Center, Community Partnerships RC&D, Sam Price, Jim Zubler, Robert Lepley, the folks at the Embassy Theatre, Mike Buffington, George Powell and other donors.

The council is currently looking for new members to volunteer their time and efforts for future events and next year’s festival. The group can be found on Facebook and currently meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at the Gallery 3 West, 3 W. Monument Square, Lewistown.

The event kicks off tonight at both the McCoy House and Gallery 3 West. Friday’s music entertainment at McCoy House will be:

Katherine Kaufman, 7-8 p.m.

Grace Fala, 8-9 p.m.

In addition to the McCoy House, music at Gallery 3 West will be:

John Manino, 7-8 p.m.

Tim and Duane Show, 8-9 p.m.

Fireskippers, 9-10 p.m.

Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, vendors, student art and live music will be available throughout the day. The Garden Club will also feature a perennials, annuals and herbs sale at the McCoy House. Folk art presentations will be at Community Partnerships RC&D. Children’s activities will be available on the lawn of the Mifflin County Library.

Music for the festival stage on Saturday is:

Blue Heron, 10-11 a.m.

Darin Rex, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Brush Mountain Band, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Impulse, 1:45-2:45 p.m.

Big Band Sound, 3-4 p.m.

Huff and Gordon, 4:15-4:45 p.m.

Lewistown Community Band, 5-6 p.m.

Jabs, 6:30-8 p.m.

In addition, the Heritage Brass Band will perform at noon at the Lumina Center.

From noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, student art will be on display at LUMINA Center.