by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Though it’s only April and the flowers haven’t even popped through the ground yet, it’s never too early to think about the many summer festivals Lewiston hosts.
This year’s bunch gets started earlier than normal, as one of the fastest growing offerings decided to accelerate its timeline.
Pubfest, the charity function spearheaded by Lewiston Village Pub co-owner Ken Scibetta, is abandoning its middle-June weekend in favor of the post-Memorial Day fun of Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 2.
“Father’s Day weekend has always been an issue for our volunteers, for the bands and for getting people to come out on that Sunday,” Scibetta said. “We wanted to take a weekend where nothing was going on. And this is the weekend after Memorial Day, so people are going to be looking for something to do.”
The date for Pubfest isn’t the only thing changing about this year’s offering. Through the first three years of the festival, the atmosphere has expanded from a single day of music and drinking to an entire weekend devoted to family-friendly entertainment. Scibetta added amusement rides last year, along with games and other frills in an effort to make the most money possible for Variety Kids Telethon, his charity of choice, and Lewiston’s first responders.
But those bangs have quickly fizzled and Pubfest is returning to its roots, with a massive stage, all the beer adults ages 21 and older can drink and three nights of music headlined by two popular national acts, The Trews and U.S.S. – short for Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker.
Scibetta said Pubfest is heading more toward the adult entertainment its name suggests.
“Our beer tent and our bands are always the way we raised money,” he said. “So this year, we wanted to keep it simple and go back to our roots. We’re going to do the things that have made us the most money, but we’re going to do them bigger than ever. We’re going big.”
More information about Pubfest, including about exclusive VIP tickets for the weekend, go online to www.lewistonvillagepubfest.com.
In addition to Pubfest, there is another minor change happening to one of Lewiston’s most popular festivals and it involves a little bit of green.
The Lewiston Art Festival is teaming up with Modern Recycling to go full steam ahead in looking to reduce littering and other negative behaviors when it takes over Center Street Aug. 10 and 11.
The effort was recognized at the April 1 Lewiston Village Board work session, where Mayor Terry Collesano read a proclamation naming the weekend “Art of Green Weekend” in the village.
“Since we live in such an environmentally fragile area, anything we do on behalf of the environment can be very good,” Eva Nicklas, artistic director for Lewiston Council on the Arts, said. “The Art Festival seems like the perfect opportunity to turn people on to leaving a smaller footprint.”
As the organizers of the festival, the council must first practice what it preaches. According to Executive Director Irene Rykaszewski, its members are all environmentally conscious. Their combined attitudes helped the green initiative evolve throughout the years of partnership with Modern Recycling, the Lewiston-based refuse collection company which has sponsored the festival and donated its services in kind, she said.
In “Art of Green,” festival goers will recognize composting and recycling centers throughout the many artist tents. Each station will be staffed by volunteers trained to assist in composting food waste and recycling the service ware. Food vendors will also be required to use compostable materials to serve food, meaning there won’t be any styrofoam plates or cups sold by official art festival vendors.
Artpark summer camp students will also have an opportunity to get in on the artistic action of the festival, as they’ll be able to decorate 12 recycling receptacles for the event. On display at the Artpark concerts prior to the festival, concertgoers will have the ability to vote for a favorite bin. The top five will be selected for display at the festival, where voting will continue.
The remaining receptacles will be used to showcase the composting stations.
“Our main focus is the artists and the art festival,” Rykaszewski said. “Our challenge every year is to organize a festival artists enjoy doing. What we do has to build off that. We always try to keep it fresh. This year everyone’s rather enthusiastic about it because we have this great opportunity to do the art, bring in the environmental themes and make it fun and a great learning experience for all.”