GUEST VIEW: Thank you for this great festival! | Opinion

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Perfect weather, record crowds, wonderful and diverse performers, music and a relaxed, family atmosphere created an exceptional festival experience in Lewiston last month.

The Lewiston Art Festival is supported by an incredible group of staff, board members and volunteers…too many to acknowledge individually…but a special thank you to board members Gene Kulbago and Dale Williamson who have organized the volunteers, set up the information booth, and showed up at 6 a.m., and Liz Kovacs, our board chair, who planned, set up, staffed, and ran our tent fundraising beer for two days.

Hennepin Park has been transformed into an Iroquois market and performance space showcasing the rich heritage of our Haudenosaunee friends. So many visitors said it was their favorite part of the festival and it continues to grow every year. Thanks to craftsman and host Randy Greene, and AMD Environmental Consultants, our sponsor who made this possible.

Our artistic partners provided many free opportunities to get creative during the festival. Artpark presented its Free Family Saturday program at the festival with free arts and crafts activities and an engaging parade of stilt walkers and musicians from the Farm Arts Collective. The Castellani Museum of Art sponsored origami puppies and the Lewiston Public Library showcased “sharktastic” magnet making. Finally, at the Iroquois Market, you could make a Native American jitterbug with Mary Annette Clause.

This year, a Statewide Community Regrant, administered by Arts Services Inc (ASI), made possible a weekend residency for internationally acclaimed chalk painter Anthony Cappetto who created a 4D augmented reality mural. The Chalk Walk Invitational brought together elite teams of students from Lewiston-Porter and Niagara Falls High School who created their murals alongside Anthony. Thanks to Cindy Sanchez (LPHS) and Rob Lynch and Annette Baumgarden (NFHS), the committed art teachers who selected and accompanied the student teams. KeyBank, Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, and the New York State Council on the Arts have made chalk art possible.

As a community art board, we rely on the Lewiston Police, Lewiston Fire Company #1 and the Village Dept. of Public Works (DPW) to help us welcome the tens of thousands of visitors to the Festival. We are grateful to Mayor Welch and the Village Trustees, Village Clerk Shannon Fundis and Larry Wills and his DPW team for their support in providing the necessary infrastructure to support the arts festival and quite literally, make it possible. An additional shout out to the police who patrolled the street, occupied the watchtower, helped with medical emergencies, resolved disputes and generally made everyone feel a little safer.

The planning, fundraising and marketing of all of our events throughout the year is made possible through the financial support of the City of Lewiston, Village of Lewiston and numerous WNY Corporations. A special thank you to Supervisor Broderick and the Town Council and Mayor Anne Welch and the Village Administrators for the continued support that has made our growth possible. Additionally, our corporate sponsors have helped us continue our post-pandemic recovery; Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, Modern Corporation and Sevenson Environmental.

Finally, our gratitude to our friends in the media who helped us spread the word, and to the professional and student artists who exhibit at our festival. Without the artists, there would be no festival and it is thanks to these exceptional artists that we maintain our reputation as a premier WNY event.

It was a great weekend in Lewiston!

Irene Rykaszewski is the executive director of the Lewiston Council on the Arts.

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