By Zach Mosca
This summer, Youngstown State University will host the 23rd Annual Summer Festival of the Arts, and for the first time, the festival will not be held on campus. This year, the 23rd Annual Summer Festival of the Arts moves downtown.
According to Director of Community Engagements and Events Lori Factor, the festival is relocating to Wean Park near the Covelli Centre and the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. Factor said a major reason for this venue change is to increase community engagement within a larger space that follows coronavirus safety guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It helps people to learn a little bit more about all of the things going on in the city and it allows us to grow in a different way and utilize the Amphitheatre,” Factor said.
The festival will take place from 10 a.m-6 p.m. Saturday, July 17 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, July 18. The event will be free to the public.
Since this is the first time the festival has moved off campus, relocating comes with its fair share of logistical problems. Factor described the main challenge of relocating locations is getting used to the new venue and planning where everything is going to go.
“When you pick up an event and move it to a new location, you have to look at all of the ways that you have to sort of maybe bring people in from another direction, making sure everybody has new directions and placing our artists and performers so it makes sense in a cohesive way,” Factor said.
Over the years, the Summer Festival of the Arts has showcased local artists who work with all mediums. One of these artists is YSU alumnus Bob Barko Jr. He has participated in the festival since its beginning and said he is excited to see what the change of venue has in store.
“It will be different, but I know [Factor] and her crew will do a hell of a job. They’ve always been great [with] welcoming all of us artists to the Summer Festival on campus and I am highly confident that hospitality will continue in downtown,” Barko said.
Barko also said he believes the festival can attract even more people than ever before due to its new location.
“I don’t think you can help but increase the visibility, being that you’re going to be right there off the two bridges going into downtown. Folks may stop by just for the fact that they look down and see all the tents and hear the music and smell the food and all that good stuff,” Barko said.
The Summer Festival of the Arts is not just for visual art. According to Factor, the festival welcomes performing arts as well as local art and culture groups such as Valley Western Reserve and the Butler Institute of American Art.
“From a collaborative standpoint, there will also be activities. The Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Summer Fest will occur that same weekend. We’ll also have things happening at the steel museum,” Factor said.