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Summer fest features arts and more

Youngstown State University’s Summer Festival of the Arts puts the Mahoning Valley’s cultural talent on full display.

Lori A. Factor, director of community engagement and events at YSU, said 25 arts and cultural groups will be set up at the event, which runs Saturday and Sunday on the grounds of YSU.

“I think organizations see this is the type of audience that is their audience,” she said. “Having the opportunity to have a captive audience they can give their upcoming seasons to, give a quick performance of vignette, they see that as really positive,” she said. “In the arts, you have to do a lot of things — things that are cost effective and get you a lot of bang for your buck, and this gets them a lot of bang for their buck.”

While bar crawls are a familiar offering in many cities, this year the festival will have a pipe organ crawl, organized with the American Guild of Organists. At 1 p.m. Saturday, participants will walk to three nearby venues — YSU’s Bliss Recital Hall, St. John’s Episcopal Church and St. Columba Cathedral — where they will enjoy a short organ concert and learn about the history of the instrument.

“That’s something different you don’t find at every festival,” Factor said.

Multiple stages will offer a wide variety of entertainment, ranging from acts that have played the event for years, like County Mayo and JD Eicher, to first-time performers like the steel drum band Pan Tropix and the gypsy jazz of Moustache Yourself. Factor said many of the acts include YSU faculty or alumni.

The Festival of Nations will showcase some of the different ethnic groups that have settled in the area with ethnic clubs and churches providing memorabilia, performances and food.

One of the festival’s most popular attractions is the juried artists marketplace, which will feature more than 80 local, regional and national artists selling original, hand-crafted pieces such as jewelry, paintings, sketches, sculptures, glass, wood and textiles. Factor credited the jurors with assembling a good mix of artists.

“We don’t want to be the YSU Summer Festival of Jewelry or the Summer Festival of Woodwork,” she said. “They do a good job of keeping a balance.”

While the festival offers a full slate of activities and entertainment during the day, it also is held in conjunction with a variety of other Youngstown events, including the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Summer Fest and two concerts at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre — Youngstown Wine and Jazz with Norman Brown on Saturday and 2Deep Entertainment Gospel Festival with James Fortune on Sunday.

“I find it unique to this community that the churches, YSU, the Mahoning Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, the City of Youngstown all partner together along with JAC Management to have this entire weekend,” Factor said. “I feel that we are very lucky to have that symbiotic relationship that allows us not be competitive with each other and market all the events together.”

Entertainment schedule

SATURDAY

10 a.m. — Pan Tropix (Kilcawley Center Amphitheater)

11 a.m. — Youngstown Music Teachers’ Student Recital (Chestnut Room, Kilcawley Center); Conjunto Riquena (Kilcawley Center Amphitheater); Youngstown Community Concert Band (Festival of Nations)

Noon — Ballet Western Reserve (Chestnut Room, Kilcawley Center); Labra Brothers (Kilcawley Center Amphitheater); Pan Tropix (Festival of Nations); “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

1 p.m. — Erie Heights Brass Ensemble (Festival of Nations); A Time to Dance ballroom dance exhibition (Butler Institute of American Art); “First and Farthest” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

2 p.m. — Millennial Theatre Company (Chestnut Room, Kilcawley Center); Radio Lark (Kilcawley Center Amphitheater); Pines of Time (Festival of Nations); A Time to Dance ballroom dance exhibition (Butler Institute of American Art); “Summer Skywatch” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

3 p.m. — Youngstown Connection (Festival of Nations); “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

4 p.m. — Harding Poetry Club (Chestnut Room, Kilcawley Center); The Beck-Ward Project (Kilcawley Center Amphitheater); Caitlin Hedge, fiddle, and Dave Lynn, guitar (Festival of Nations); “First and Farthest” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

SUNDAY

11 a.m. — County Mayo (Kilcawley Center Amphitheater)

Noon — Rust Belt Theater Company (Chestnut Room, Kilcawley Center); lion dance and tai-chi / kung-fu (Festival of Nations); “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

1 and 2 p.m. — Storyteller W. Rick Schilling: “Davy Crockett Saves the World” (Chestnut Room, Kilcawley Center)

1 p.m. — JD Eicher (Kilcawley Center Amphitheater); Rachel Clemente, harp (Festival of Nations); “First and Farthest” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

2 p.m. — Del Sinchak (Festival of Nations); Louis Zona on “Art and the Presidents” (Butler Institute of American Art); “Summer Skywatch” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

3 p.m. — Moustache Yourself (Kilcawley Center Amphitheater); LatinX & Hispanic Student Organization (Festival of Nations); “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

4 p.m. — “First and Farthest” (Ward Beecher Planetarium)

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