A trio of summer traditions fall under a new umbrella together this year — the inaugural Lackawanna Arts Weekend.
The First Friday Art Walk, Scranton Jazz Festival and Lackawanna Arts Fest (formerly Arts on the Square) take over the city’s downtown with a vibrant mix of music, fine art, crafts and more starting Friday, Aug. 3.
“I really hope that this is just the beginning of putting Scranton on the map for our thriving arts community,” said Cristin Powers, ScrantonMade founder. “It does take a while to get things off the ground, but I think that we did a good job this year and I’m hoping that it just brings people from outside the area, from neighboring counties, to Scranton.”
ScrantonMade’s Lackawanna Arts Fest spurred the change as it sought to move from its traditional July weekend “to take away some of the traffic downtown that day,” since it usually coincided with the county’s three-on-three basketball tournament, Powers said. Organizers brainstormed and decided to move the one-day offering of items from local artisans and craftspeople on Lackawanna County Courthouse Square to the same weekend as First Friday and the 14th annual Scranton Jazz Festival, “hopefully making Scranton and Lackawanna County a tourist attraction for that weekend,” Powers said.
Kicking off the weekend on Friday, with most stops open from 6 to 9 p.m. or similar, First Friday again brings a range of artistic mediums to locales across the downtown. Many also plan to offer live music, and First Friday has hired roving musicians to entertain throughout the downtown.
Uniting First Friday with the other two events will “add so much” to each event since each compliments the others so well, said Thom Welby, First Friday’s acting executive director. It gives them a chance to show off their events to new audiences, he explained.
“It’s so exciting,” Welby said. “We know that we’re going to be bringing in people from outside the market that normally wouldn’t come in, and we have the opportunity to show off these other events. … None of them take away from the other. I think it’s such a great opportunity to show off our area, and our First Friday events have been getting stronger every month.”
The jazz festival also opens Friday night with a happy hour at 5 followed by Voodoo BBQ Brass Band at 8 and Special EFX All-Stars — featuring Chieli Minucci, Eric Marienthal, Regina Carter, Lao Tizer, Joel Rosenblatt and Jerry Brooks — at 9 at Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel.
“They are a conglomeration of musicians that not only have they been award-winning and together for many years … but individually they’ve had some significant accomplishments on their own with solo albums and playing for other musical greats,” said Sarah Effertz, jazz festival marketing director.
Performances continue with jazz walks around the city Friday and Saturday nights and shows through Sunday.
“People love being able to then just filter out (of the concert and) walk through the city of Scranton, because the city’s beautiful at night, too,” Effertz said. “And on a summer evening, it’s a really nice walk.”
Other headliners include the Bernie Williams Collective — which features jazz guitarist and former New York Yankees player Bernie Williams — performing Saturday, Aug. 4, at 8:30 p.m., and trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis — son of Ellis and brother of Branford, Wynton and Jason — who plays with the SJF Big Band on Sunday, Aug. 5, at 8:30 p.m.
Visitors also will find live music at Lackawanna Arts Fest, taking place Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. on the square, where many familiar vendors will return alongside some new faces.
“More artists from out of town are making this a show on their calendars,” Powers said. “We have everything from handmade furniture, candles, jewelry, art, accessories, children’s accessories, wine and, mead, baklava, cupcakes, local honey. Really everything that our area has to offer from local independent artists and craftsmen.”
Live entertainment will come from Yam Yam, Chris Kearney & Friends, Starbird, Rogue Chimp and James Brown Dance Party, while people of all ages can enjoy free activities and even get to meet artists and crafters whose work is for sale.
“I think people really appreciate spending their money locally and getting to hand that over, say, to the person making the products,” Powers said. “It’s a really feel-good buy. I think that it’s just a great, family-friendly event to come to.”
Backyard Ale House, 523 Linden St., will offer an outdoor cafe, while Terra Preta Prime has something special planned at its new location, 301 N. Washington Ave., Powers said.
The weekend precedes the Governor’s Awards for the Arts, set for Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m. at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple. The lead up to that event also includes the Scranton Fringe Festival guide launch, Thursday, Aug. 2, 6 to 8 p.m., Adezzo, 515 Center St., Scranton; an architectural building tour, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 5:30 p.m., Catlin House, 232 Monroe Ave., Scranton; and “The Arts & the Public Good: A Forum,” Aug. 8, 3 p.m., Scranton Cultural Center.
Organizers hope the arts weekend brings more people to the county.
“Now that we have First Friday, Lackawanna Arts (Fest) and the jazz festival, it’s really exciting,” Effertz said. “It gives Lackawanna County and the surrounding area just a lot of activities, and it’s a lot of options to have a lot of great family fun. And it just enriches our area.”