Summer Festival of the Arts returns to Wean Park

The Summer Festival of the Arts is being held this year in Wean Park. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

By Elizabeth Coss

With a rush of music from the Youngstown Area Community Concert Band, the 24th Annual Summer Festival of the Arts kicked off in Wean Park on July 9. 

Spotlighting a variety of arts ranging from performing to visual, Director of the Summer Festival of the Arts, Lori Factor, said there is a combination of artistry and community at the festival. 

“We are very inclusive with the arts and culture community. We’ve got over 30 groups who have set up shop,” Factor said. “We have over 70 artists who are here from all over the country.”

Artists not only get the chance to promote and sell their artwork, but they have the chance to win prizes for a variety of categories due to the festival being juried. All artists at the festival had to have their art reviewed and selected before setting up a display tent.

“The artists have to go through an application process,” Factor said. “We have professional artists look through their process of work and quality.” 

A Youngstown artist, Willie Duck Jr., has been coming to the festival since 2004. Duck graduated from East High School and went on to study at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, but has stayed in the area growing his art. 

He does a variety of pieces including portraits, design, lettering, landscaping, colored pencil, pen, ink, oil and acrylic works. He described some of his art people can buy and view. 

“My biggest seller is Millcreek Park, but I am also a portrait artist. I sell a lot of portraits online and I ship them out and throughout the country,” Duck said. “Doing local things is my biggest seller. It can be anything Youngstown or YSU or anything local here, but nationwide I’m more known for my portraits.”

Youngstown State University aluma Amanda Diianni and newcomer to the festival, showed off her business, Oh, Sugar, which offers a variety of baking and cooking goods. 

“I do cakes, cookies and cupcakes that’s the sugar part — and then also resin charcuterie boards and trays,” Diianni said. “A lot of people like the sports trays and then the colorful cheese boards.”

Artists varied from local to as far as New York at the event. Michelle Hoff, owner of Stained Glass and Mosaics from Buffalo, New York, has been coming to the area for around 10 years, and specializes in mosaic artwork. She described how she makes most of her pieces. 

“Most of the vessels I cover with glass are repurposed. I go to garage sales and antiquing anywhere I can to find silver plates or brass or copper. Then, I paint the glass, cut it, then I glue it onto the vessels,” Hoff said. 

The festival also shines a light on the non-profit organizations in the Youngstown area. 

One of the non-profits who attended the festival was The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County with its Pop-up Library service. 

Kristy Taylor, community engagement supervisor, said the event is something she always makes sure it’s a part of. 

“As the library, promoting literature and entertainment media digitally and in print, we are a part of the arts as well,” Taylor said. “It’s something that we always take part of and it’s always something that we feel people enjoy.”

Taylor said having the Pop-up Library at the event is not only great for them, but for those who come onto the van and look through the collection of books. 

“To have people be able to go on there, especially kids, they get super excited,” Taylor said. “The van itself is just an amazing, fun experience. It’s a great first introduction for a lot of people and that’s why we try to travel around, and make sure we connect with as many people in the county as we can.”

The festival takes place on July 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on July 10 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and is free to the public. Parking is free and can be located at the Covelli Center.