Niagara Gazette

August 19, 2013

It takes a village to put on Lewiston Art Fest

By Irene Rykaszewski
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — “Best Ever!” I heard it over and over throughout the weekend. Perfect weather, record crowds, wonderful and varied artists and a relaxed and family friendly ambience made for an exceptional festival experience in Lewiston last weekend.

The Lewiston Art Festival is supported by an amazing group of staff, board members and volunteers — too numerous to thank each one. A special thank you goes to those board members and friends who gave us their weekend; Carrie Veltri who ran art activities at the Modern ArtZone, Liz Kovacs who catered a lovely VIP luncheon and Elizabeth Davis and Claudia Marasco who took the early 5 a.m. shifts on the street on Saturday. Thanks also to Fay Northrop and her volunteer crew for another amazing KeyBank Chalk Walk event and the committed teachers and imaginative students who created spectacular interpretations of the theme “Forces of Nature: Earth, Air, Fire & Water.” It took scores of volunteers (scheduled by Gene Kulbago, Pat McDonald and Dale Williamson) working behind the scenes to make the event run smoothly and we appreciate the time they all gave.

A special thanks to the Lewiston businesses that help us to make the artists feel welcome. Orange Cat opened early to provided coffee service during the Saturday morning set up and Tin Pan Alley hosted all the artists at the Sunday Awards Breakfast. Many artists expressed their appreciation for the hospitality. The growth of College Alley required a change in location and the Frontier House parking lot was the perfect setting, made possible by the Hastings family.

Year-round planning, fundraising, and marketing of all of our events is made possible by the financial support of the Town of Lewiston, Village of Lewiston, and many WNY corporations. Special thanks to Supervisor Reiter and Town Board members Bax, Marra, Palmer and Winkley for the sustained support that has made our growth possible. In particular our festival sponsors made this year one of the best art festivals ever.

In an effort to continue the transition to a ‘green’ festival our friends at Modern Recycling expanded the composting and recycling program and Artpark campers transformed recycling carts into works of art displayed throughout the Festival. Thanks also to KeyBank, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, Sevenson Environmental, Tin Pan Alley, and Cataract Printing for their support.

As a community-based art council, we rely on our Lewiston Police, Lewiston Fire Company No. 1 and Village Department of Public Works to help us host the tens of thousands of visitors, putting a significant strain on the community. We are grateful to Mayor Collesano and Trustees Sutherland, Eydt, Conde, Brochey and Village Clerk Ann Welch for their support in providing the infrastructure to support the festival and literally, make it possible. “Thank you” goes to all the staff at the Village DPW and Lewiston Police Departments for their extra effort throughout the weekend! It DOES take a Village to host a Festival!

Finally our gratitude to our media friends who helped us get the word out, and the professional and student artists who exhibit at our festival. Without the artists there would be no festival and it is because of these outstanding artists, that we maintain our reputation as a premier Western New York event.

It was a great weekend in Lewiston!

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