Event aims to change art festival experience

LEWISTOWN – The Mifflin Juniata Arts Council is changing the traditional local arts festival into a hands-on art experience, scheduled for mid-May in downtown Lewistown.

The event, which used to be known as the Mifflin Juniata Arts Festival, and included music, food and artists selling their creations, is now called “Artstock: The Experience.” Organized by the arts council, in cooperation with Lewistown Borough, Community Partners RC&D, and local businesses, Artstock will take place from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on May 17, with music lasting into the evening, and the student art exhibit remaining open the following day.

This year, MJAC is changing the focus of the event, arts council member Staci Van Art said.

“It will no longer be a place for visitors to purchase art; instead, it will be a place for visitors to create and appreciate art,” Van Art said. “The mission of the arts council is to make art accessible to everyone, and that means helping people to express their own creativity.”

Since last fall, MJAC has hosted Textile Tuesdays, Thursday Salons, and workshops on topics such as mold making, drawing, painting, chalk pastels and T-shirt scarves. The council is planning many more workshops, including some for children and teens, which will take place during the summer.

Because the workshops have become so popular, MJAC will offer several activities for public participation at Gallery 3West during Artstock. The activities will include pottery and fiber demonstrations, as well as a series of hands-on mini-workshops, including mold making and drawing, so that visitors can have their own artful experiences. The specific activities and schedule will be announced at a later date.

As always, the student art competition and exhibit at the LUMINA Center will be a featured attraction. Teachers from Mifflin County schools will bring their students’ artwork to be displayed. Student art judging will take place the evening of May 16, and the exhibit will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 17, and from noon to 3 p.m. on May 18. The arts council encourages the public to visit the exhibit and support the creativity of local youth.

The music will also be different this year, Van Art said. The main music attraction will be the River Valley Idol finals, which will be held at 2 p.m. on May 17 in the parking lot between Juniata Valley Bank and Wilson’s Jewelry on Monument Square.

Although RiverFEST has been discontinued, River Valley Idol will go on, thanks to Chris Ruble, Friends of the Embassy, MERF Radio and Juniata Valley Winery. Several talented singers, who competed in the open auditions in April at the Historic Mifflin County Courthouse and Juniata Valley Winery, as well as at the semifinals at the Embassy Fair, will meet for one final competition to determine who will be this year’s River Valley Idol. The event will be broadcast on MERF Radio live from Monument Square.

Saturday evening, following the River Valley Idol contest, MJAC invites the public to relax downtown with the music of several other local bands, including The Fireskippers.

For more information about Artstock and other MJAC events, visit www.mifflinjuniataartscouncil.org or the Facebook page Mifflin Juniata Arts Council.