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Street fest enriches city life



Published: Sat, July 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The free festival was the foundation's fourth community event in 20 years.

By KANTELE FRANKO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Columbiana resident Sara Saverko knows she has a talent for singing that few other 10-year-olds have. Now other Youngstown residents know it, too.

Singing her rendition of Martina McBride's "Broken Wing," Sara took first place in the youth talent show at the Community Street Fair on North Phelps Street Saturday afternoon.

The musical duo of Jamie Marich and Jim Stafford took first place in the adult competition. The top two winners in each show received a gift basket with a variety of prizes.

Visitors enjoyed free admission to the nine-hour festival, which included entertainment, poetry readings, refreshments, the talent show and a sidewalk artist bazaar with displays by about 30 artists. Exhibitors from local organizations, including campaigners for Youngstown mayoral candidates, also attracted visitors.

Sara said she and her family arrived before the competition to see the artists and other activities, and her favorite part was watching the artists make their crafts.

Though Youngstown has a different atmosphere than Columbiana, the different types of entertainment and art still make the event interesting, Sara said.

Arts foundation's project

Pig Iron Literary & amp; Art Works Inc., an arts foundation in the Mahoning Valley, worked with the Federal Plaza Office of the City of Youngstown to coordinate the 2005 Community Street Festival.

The festival was the fourth community event sponsored by the foundation since its establishment in 1981, and it is the biggest of Pig Iron's 28 events this year.

The event gave the foundation and the city an opportunity to create a "homey, artsy" street atmosphere reminiscent of side streets in New York City, said Federal Plaza Director Claire Maluso.

At the same time, the event maintains a local feel by featuring many local artists and musicians, she said.

Events that expose residents to culture and the arts are important in the kind of atmosphere Youngstown officials are trying to achieve, said Jim Villani, treasurer of the Pig Iron Board of Trustees.

"If we're going to build community, we need to provide relaxing and entertaining events," he said.

Though the festival was intended to be a Pig Iron fund-raiser, the foundation would more likely break even with the costs it paid to host the event, which were between $3,000 and $5,000, he said.

Attendance is hard to judge because no tickets are sold and people are constantly moving throughout the street, but the number of visitors to the festival was higher than that of 2004, which was estimated at 1000, Villani said.

Increased numbers of artists and participants also indicate the event will likely continue to grow in the future as it becomes an annual event, he said.

Next year's street festival is scheduled for the end of July, and the foundation will accept artists' registrations beginning Sept. 1.




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