YSU SUMMER FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS What event's fans like: So much to do and see

The arts festival this weekend offers a little bit of everything from just about everywhere.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Three years ago, Carol Zebrasky of Poland took her baby granddaughter to Youngstown State University's first Summer Festival of the Arts. Ever since, they've looked forward to the annual event with great anticipation.
"We love it, and it gets better every year," Zebrasky said enthusiastically. Her granddaughter, Jenna Jacobs, who will celebrate her fifth birthday next week, was too engrossed in her painting to discuss what she likes about the festival. Clowns, puppeteers, live music, storytellers, dance and theatrical performances along with plenty of hands-on arts-and-crafts projects keep kids of all ages happy.
More festival fans: Chris Walsh of Hermitage, Pa., and her two children, Maureen, 5, and Jonathan, 2, knew they'd have a great time at the festival too. Last year was the first time they attended, Walsh said, "and it was exceptional. We saw Ballet Western Reserve perform last year and because of that we went to see Cinderella in the spring at Powers Auditorium."
Choosing a favorite event at the festival is difficult, Walsh added. "We like it all -- the music, the theater. But the kids' tent, this is it."
Christine Koneval of Liberty agreed. This was the first time she and her two sons, Stephen, 4, and Jacob, 3, had been to the summer festival.
"I just saw the signs and thought this would be something great to expose the kids to," Koneval said. Motioning to the hands-on kids' art festival housed under a monstrous tent, she said, "there's so much to do in there we'll be here all day."
For adults: As much as there is for the wee ones to do, there's even more for the grown-ups. A vast selection of live performances that take place concurrently make choosing which to attend extremely difficult.
On Saturday, Sumakta Incas, a six-member band originally from Ecuador and based in Columbus, provided music of the Andes at one end of campus while Get Out and Push played Bluegrass near the fountain, Jocko the clown made balloon animals for the kids near the center of the campus green, Turkish folk dancers from Chicago performed near Ward Beecher Hall, the Harambee dancers performed near Maag Library, Galgozy & amp; Ingersoll coaxed the audience to sing along in the performance tent between Moser and Cushwa halls, and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra's string quartet played in the lobby of Tod Hall.
Artists: At the same time, more than 60 artists marketed their wares -- everything from twisted wire and crystal jewelry to paintings, hand-tooled leather game boards, musical instruments and clothing -- in tents that line the winding walkways on the campus core.
A library book sale and a festival of nations offered plenty of opportunity for browsing -- and sampling foods and cultures from around the world.
What's so great about the festival of nations, said Sally Murphy Pallante, president of the Irish Archival Society, which has a booth next to one sponsored by the India Association of Greater Youngstown, "is that we're all here standing side-by-side and proud of our heritage. It's a great opportunity to develop friendships."
The women staffing the India booth shared their streamers with those staffing the Ireland booth, Pallante said, "and we shared our Irish soda breads with them. They never tasted Irish soda bread before and they loved it."
Having a mix of different cultural groups "lends charm to a town," added Lalita Prabhu, co-secretary of the India Association of Greater Youngstown. She was selling samosas -- spicy Indian pastries filled with potatoes and peas -- in the India booth.
"Our association is about bridging the two cultures," she said. So, participating in the festival of nations provided an excellent opportunity to share Indian culture with attendees.
Many of the artists use the arts festival to market their wares to consumers who may not have seen their work before. While many of the exhibitors are from the Mahoning and Shenango valleys, others came from Akron, Louisville, Ky., and a host of other places.
"This is the only show I have in Ohio," said Anne Ebendorf, a jewelry artist from Louisville. "I am in one shop in Columbus," she added, "but this is the only show." She decided to exhibit at YSU's festival last winter after receiving an invitation. The YSU Summer Festival of the Arts is a juried show.
At that point, Ebendorf said, she didn't know anything about the festival. "We came blind," she said, laughing. By mid-morning Saturday, she described her sales as "going very well."
Brisk sales: Sales also were brisk for Ron Musser, a leather craftsman from Lancaster, Pa. Musser sells hand-tooled leather handbags, belts, billfolds and game boards at shows throughout the country.
"I always do well in Ohio. You have excellent shows," he said. Although he's exhibited throughout the state, he's never been to Youngstown. Because he hadn't exhibited in this area before, Musser said he thought displaying his wares at the YSU festival could be lucrative. So far, he's very pleased.
Sales weren't so strong for Russ Moses, a photographer from Akron. This was also Moses' first time exhibiting at the YSU festival.
By mid-morning Saturday, sales were zero. "But it's early," Moses added quickly. "I don't expect to sell anything the first two or three hours. People come and they like to look around first. Then they buy."
A highlight of the festival Saturday night was Forte on the Fifty at Stambaugh Stadium. The show featured performances by The Dana All-Star Band, The Youngstown Connection and others.
The Vindicator is a major sponsor of the festival, which continues today.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.