‘Our Town … Art Town’
Fine Arts Fiesta in Wilkes-Barre celebrates local talent, May 17-20
By Kirstin Cook
Home is where the art is. At least, that’s the opinion of the Fine Arts Fiesta organizers, which is why this year’s event will focus in on local talent.
The 57th annual Fine Arts Fiesta will be held on Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, from May 17 to 20. The theme is “Our Town … Art Town.” The free event will feature live performances, a juried art show, an artists’ market, children’s activities and ethnic foods.
Tracey Selingo, chairperson of the marketing committee for the Fine Arts Fiesta, said the event really hones in on the talented artists in our own neighborhoods. “There are so many performers here, and many different artists, and there’s such a rich culture that you don’t see every day,” she said. Fine Arts Fiesta gives attendees a rare look at all of these artistic abilities together in one place.
Pennsylvania’s longest-running art show has been trending toward local artisans and performers in the last two years.
Kathleen Godwin, member of the performing arts committee, said many people aren’t aware of the artistic potential of this area. She hopes attendees might be inspired to learn more about local opportunities and perhaps take a class.
Another unique part of Fiesta is how different it is every year. “The very nature of the whole event constantly changes, just because the people are always different and the players are always different,” Selingo said.
The changing dynamic is due to the artist selection process, which requires artists to apply every year in order to participate.
“Everybody has to either apply for the first time or reapply, everything is judged and juried to get them in,” Selingo said.
Godwin said they strive to showcase variety and appeal to different ethic groups in the selection process. She added that their new website allows artists to submit work online.
“We look at what’s submitted and try to pick a little of this, a little of that,” Godwin said.
The resulting pool of artists is a mix of returning stars and first-time performers. Selingo said this variety is one reason Fiesta has become Pennsylvania’s longest-running art show, growing to span 57 years. She said the other part is the thriving arts community. “I think that the vibrancy, and the fact that it is always different certainly has helped keep it alive,” Selingo said.
With that vibrancy comes variety. Fineartsfiesta.org outlines a diverse schedule of performances, with everything from dance, theater and poetry to classical and salsa bands represented.
The artists’ market features artists from northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as across the country, who will showcase their wares, including photography, paintings, jewelry pottery and more.
While your eyes are taking in all the art, your tastebuds won’t be bored. Venders such as Hillside Farms, Nico’s Pizza and Blue Chip Gourmet will offer everything from Philly cheese steaks to potato pancakes.
The Fiesta is run by volunteers and funded by community donations. Selingo said the event relies on funds from the public and about 20 volunteer board members who work all year to make it happen.
“It’s an event that is run by and run for the community, which I think makes it so special,” Selingo said.
Fine Arts Fiesta will be held on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, Thursday, May 17; Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday May 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit fineartsfiesta.org.
Fine Arts Fiesta Entertainment
Thursday, May 17
10 a.m. – West Hazleton Elementary Select Chorus
10-30 a.m. – West Hazleton Middle School Chorus
11 a.m. – West Hazleton Band
Noon – Opening Ceremonies
12-30 p.m. – Lunchtime Celebration
Concert with “Luis Colon Salsa Band”
2 p.m. – E.L. Meyers High School Jazz Band
5 p.m. – The Conservatory Choir
5-30 p.m. – Awards Ceremony Prelude – Hazleton Area High School Jazz Band
6-30 p.m. – Awards Ceremony
7-30 p.m. – “Musical Theatre Favorites by- “The Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre”
Friday, May 18
10-30 a.m. – Wyoming Valley West Middle School Honors Orchestra
Noon – Friday Afternoon Musicale- Dallas Middle School Jazz Band and Select Chorus
1-30 p.m. – Coughlin Jazz and Concert Band
2-30 p.m. – Wilkes Barre Area All-Area Orchestra Featuring members from E.L. Meyers, Coughlin, G.A.R. High Schools and Sullivan Jr. High School
4 p.m. – Katie Kelly
6-30 p.m. – Hybrid Sessions
8 p.m. – Mark DeRose and The Way Home
Saturday, May 19
10 a.m. – Conservatory of Dance
11 a.m. – Joan Harris Conservatory Dancers
Noon – Lunchtime Concert- “Doug Smith Dixieland All-Stars
1 p.m. – Performances by The Mozart Club
1-45 p.m. – Performances by The Music Box Theatre Co.
2-25 p.m. – Starring U Kid!
3-25 p.m. – Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre, Gina Malsky
3-45 p.m. – Without Walls Dance Company
4 p.m. – Ballet Northeast
5 p.m. – The George Wesley Band
7 p.m. – Rogue Chimp featuring Mark Woodyat, Violin
Sunday, May 20
11 a.m. – Annual Spring Poetry Contest and Reading, The Wyoming Valley Poetry Society, Jim Spock, Poet and Director
Noon – David Blight Dance Studio
1 p.m. – “Freilox and Bagels”, Klezmer Band
2 p.m. – Northeastern Pennsylvania Academy of Dancing and Children’s Ballet Theatre Company
3 p.m. – XCLUZIVE SOUL, (Motown)
5 p.m. – The Poets
Every day of Fiesta, enjoy the sounds of strolling musicians Bill Kuklevich, on accordion, and Mary Baker, on guitar. For the most up-to-date schedule, visit fineartsfiesta.org.