Festival: fun for whole family

The festival is a collaboration between the university and the local and regional arts community.



YOUNGSTOWN — Lying on a bed containing 1,317 nails may not be the most comfortable of pastimes and positions, but Raymond Beiersdorfer will tell you that it’s also not exactly the back-stabbing experience you might think.

“It hurts a little,” said Beiersdorfer, associate director of Youngstown State University’s Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences. “It’s like merging a side show with science.”

Beiersdorfer, who also had someone with a sledgehammer break a cinderblock on his chest with nails underneath, said his demonstration was set up “as a fun way to teach science to kids.” It also was designed to show the impact that physics and physiological forces have on the human body.

The demonstration was part of the two-day, ninth annual YSU Summer Festival of the Arts, held on and near the campus. The free event began Saturday and continues from noon to 6 p.m. today.

The festival

The festival is a collaboration between the university and the local and regional arts community. One of its main purposes is to promote the diversity of art displayed in the Mahoning Valley as well as nationally, organizers say.

This year’s festival includes more than 60 local, regional and national artists as well as more than 60 musical, theatrical and dance performances. Also featured are numerous activities for children and a Festival of Nations fair.

Among those displaying their artistic talents were Beth Carson and her 12-year-old daughter, Alana, of East Palestine. Mother and daughter participated in kirigami, a Japanese art form that combines paper folding and cutting. Alana enjoyed using colored markers to make an Indian design on paper she intricately folded in the shape of a star.

They have made coming to the festival “a family tradition,” Beth Carson added.

Also not shy about showing his artistic whims was Ian O’Brien, 8, of Youngstown, who used colored markers to draw a Super Mario design and other patterns taken from his favorite video games. Ian came with his parents, Dan and Michelle O’Brien.

A creative atmosphere

Youngsters and their parents alike also expressed their creativity by personalizing donated ceramic tiles and binders, said Heidi Swift, who coordinated the children’s art tent. Other activities were making telescopes from paper tubes and using puppets and head pieces, Swift noted.

Accenting a walk around the campus were numerous booths selling photographs, pottery, hand-blown and stained glass, garden stakes, paintings and Idora Park memorabilia.

Some vendors like Nancy Wasserman of Columbus leaned more toward the eclectic.

Wasserman said she owns a business that specializes in making pendants, earrings and other items from Dichroic glass. Such glass is fumed with precious metals and fired in a kiln at 1,500 degrees, causing it to shimmer, shine and still be transparent, she explained.

The event also had several booths with information and items from various cultures that made up the Festival of Nations. One booth, manned by members of the Mahoning Valley Coalition of Conscience, displayed information and DVDs calling attention to the genocide crisis in Darfur, Sudan.

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