YSU ARTS FESTIVAL Families find balloons, crafts and lots of fun

Matt Cooper, 15, entertained other festival-goers as he pedaled his unicycle from one end of campus to the other.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A middle-aged man in a folding chair took a big swig of lemonade as a little brown monkey with a bunch of bananas dangled from the stem of a bright orange flower above his head.
The monkey was just one of the many balloon critters created specifically for each child at Youngstown State University's Summer Festival of the Arts.
Sarah Demetruk requested a pink poodle.
"I love my poodle. Look, Mom, isn't she cute?" the 6-year-old Boardman girl chirped as she followed her mother, 4-year-old-sister and grandma across the core of YSU.
"Watch, don't let it hit the ground. It'll break," Sarah's mom, Gail Demetruk, warned her younger daughter, Jennifer. Jennifer's little gray balloon monkey was attached to the stem of a flower that was as tall as she is.
Family event
Sarah has come to the festival the last two years, Demetruk said; this is Jennifer's first. The girls had a great time. At the children's hands-on art tent, they made treasure boxes and puppets, and painted.
Their grandmother, Jane Sandin, also of Boardman, was loaded down with the girls' crafts as they headed for their car.
The family spent five hours at the festival, mostly in the children's area, Demetruk said.
The man in the folding chair was there with his family too. His youngest was painting -- he was keeping an eye on him. The older ones periodically brought the man treats from the concession stands, asked for money and piled their purchases in front of him.
Casey Cooper of Hubbard, another dad at the festival, brings his three kids every summer. This year, his 10-year-old daughter, Kirsten, got one-on-one help from jewelry-maker Barbara Bluiett of Indianapolis in choosing one of Bluiett's handcrafted ear cuffs.
"I think this one's too big," Bluiett said of the first ear cuff Casey tried. Then she helped the little girl put on a smaller cuff that fit her ear perfectly.
"I like that one," Cooper said.
Things to do
Just then, Cooper's 13-year-old son, Grant, came rushing up and proudly displayed the vase he'd bought for his mother's birthday. He bought it from a potter who had a tent full of mugs, bowls, dishes and other objects for sale around the corner.
Cooper's 15-year-old son, Matt, wasn't interested in browsing the artists' marketplace. He had more fun entertaining other festival-goers as he pedaled his unicycle from one end of campus to the other.
Al and Jill Lewis of Youngstown came for the food.
"There's fair food at that end," Jill said, motioning to her right. "We didn't have anything there except lemon shakes. We're heading to the ethnic food."
Jill's sister, Gayle Bolash, and her daughter, Shalyse, also of Youngstown, came because of all the interesting events they saw listed in The Vindicator.
"We went to an arts festival in Pittsburgh and it was real condensed compared to this," Bolash said. "This is nice. Everything's not all jammed together."
People listening to a band set up on a stage in front of Bliss Hall would likely agree. Dozens of young people stretched out on the lawn in front of the American Indian scout sculpture at the Butler Institute of American Art. A few tapped their feet on the curb. Most kept time bobbing their heads.
The festival, which features an artists' marketplace, planetarium shows, entertainment, children's activities, film festival and festival of nations, continues through 7 p.m. today. Admission is free.

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