Newtown Arts Festival Expands To Eight Days Of Cultural Programming

Photo: Bee file photo

After more than two years of planning, members of Newtown Cultural Arts Commission presented a two-day event at Fairfield Hills last year that offered a few thousand visitors everything from fine art to whirligigs. This year, organizers are expanding the festival to include six days of programs prior to the big September 21-22 weekend event at Fairfield Hills.

The 2013 Newtown Arts Festival has been set for September 15-22, with several offerings leading up to the two-day outdoor event to be held Saturday and Sunday, September 21 and 22, at the festival grounds at the corner of Keating Farms Avenue and Beers Boulevard at Fairfield Hills. Last year 's inaugural festival attracted over 5,500 visitors for the two day event.

Admission to the festival is $5 per day for adults; children under 12 are free.  The gates will be open from 10 am to 6 pm.

Calling it “8 Days of Music Art and Joy,” Terry Sagedy, chairman of the 2013 Newtown Arts Festival, has announced the weeklong roster of events leading up to the onsite festival. All events from Sunday, September 15 through Wednesday, September 18, are free. Interested parties should access NewtownArtsFestival.com to reserve seats for each event.

Continuing, Mr Sagedy announced the festival will kick off with a Children’s Art Party on Sunday, September 15, from 1 to 4 pm, in the courtyard at Newtown Youth Academy, 4 Primrose Street. The Children’s Art Party will feature Magician Al Garber (“magician to the stars”), as well as arts and crafts, pumpkin painting, music, the first chance to enter this year’s arts festival’s coloring contest, and other activities for children under age 12. Parents and other family members are invited to attend.

A reading of O Heavy Lightness, a new one-act play by well-known actress Jan Neuberger, will take place on Monday, September 16, at 7 pm, at Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street. The work imagines the aftermath of the deaths of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as experienced by two of that iconic tragedy’s secondary characters. The play is written in the Elizabethan style.

On Tuesday, September 17, there will be a screening of Youth a short dramedy about being a teenager in the suburbs, conceived and executed by Newtown High School student Max Galassi. It will be shown at 7 pm in The Great Room at Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street.

A classical violin and cello recital by Elaris Duo on Wednesday, September 18, will be offered at Newtown Meeting House, 31 Main Street. The performance will begin at 7 pm.

Drs Larisa and Steven Elisha are each internationally acclaimed soloists, chamber musicians and professors of music at Georgia Southern University. An exciting and dynamic string duo, their performances have been called “stunning in its conception and execution.” Dr Steven Elisha will also host Newtown youth in a performance of his much-acclaimed Mr Cello, a fun and lively introduction to the instrument, during the festival week at a date and time to be announced at a later date.

On Thursday, September 19, “Broadway Sings for Newtown,” a benefit performance for HealingNewtown Through the Arts, will be at the Walnut Hill Community Church, 156 Walnut Hill Road in Bethel, at 7 pm. All tickets are $35 general admission and are available at NewtownArtsFestival.com.

A cast of Broadway stars will take to the stage and perform two acts of music with such favorites as “Ring Them Bells,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “You Raise Me Up,” among others.

Mark McVey (Les Miserables, Tommy, Chess, Show Boat, Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actor), Jeri Sager (CATS, Fiddler on the Roof, Les Miserables, Evita), Danny Zolli (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Candide, Sweeney Todd), Gary Mauer (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Show Boat, Pirates of Penzance), Elizabeth Southard (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Show Boat), and Kate Schindle (Miss America 1998, Legally Blonde, Jekyll & Hyde, Cabaret) have all committed to the show.  Local youth ensembles will round out the cast and will be announced in coming weeks.

Produced by Pati Beuhler of PB Entertainment, the concert staff includes J.P. Schutz, host/emcee; Jeremy Roberts, music director and pianist, Abe Saens on bass and Roger Coen on drums. Renee Chambers will choreograph. Walnut Hill Community Church has donated the venue and technical staff.

Friday, September 20, will be Newtown’s inaugural Rooster Ball, a dinner-dance to be held under the Music Tent on the festival grounds, from 7 to 11 pm. This will be a time to flaunt your feathery finery (or just celebratory clothes). Enjoy cocktails, dinner, and dancing to the music of Eugene Dobb’s Nu Cullers band with catering by the Culinary Arts students at Newtown High School and Walsh Catering of Danbury.

Tickets will be $65, with tables of 8 available $480.


Arts Festival Weekend

And that all leads up to the grand finalé: The Newtown Arts Festival on Saturday and Sunday, September 21-22.

Over 80 artists will be on hand in the Artists’ Market offering a variety of items including painting, jewelry, woodwork, glasswork, sculpture, and more. Returning artists this year will include Ethan Currier of Sticks and Stones farm, who created the dancing children sculptures that were the centerpiece of the grounds last year.

Two full days of music will be performed in the Music Tent with well-known  local and regional bands on the roster including Boplicity, The Mark Rae Trio, The Skanktones, Goldrush Band, Peter Ferreira, OutFunked, My Dad’s Truck, Otis & the Hurricanes, and The Jay Willie Band. A special comedy performance by Newtown’s Flagpole Radio Café will take place on Saturday.

In addition to the Artists’ Market and the music, the festival will offer two days of dance recitals and demonstrations in the Dance Pavilion, literary presentations and discussions organized by the Newtowner Magazine in the Lecture Hall, arts & crafts for all ages in the Make & Take Tent, and quilting, looming and knitting in the Fiber Arts Tent.

Newtown International Center for Education (NICE) will return to the festival this year offering festival patrons a chance to explore different cultures and languages.

The  Sandy Hook-based knitting club Cosmic Knittas will “yarn bomb” the festival.

The Flagpole Photographers will have an installation in Newtown Municipal Center.

Members of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue will host the second annual coloring contest on Saturday, and members of Newtown’s CERT team will host the coloring contest on Sunday.

Many other surprise street performances and activities will also take place during the two days.

Over a dozen food vendors will provide refreshments including Aurora’s Café, Billy’s Barbecue, Biscotti etc, Ferris Acres Creamery, Nick’s Restaurant and Catering, Odeens Barbecue, Romy’s BBQ, Weenie Lynn’s, and Newtown Hook & Ladder.

The Yale Pop-Up Pavilion, on loan from New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas, will be installed on the festival grounds for the weekend. It was created by Yale School of Architecture’s Robert A.M. Stern, dean, and J.M. Hoppin, professor of architecture.

Specific dates and times for all musical acts, performances and demonstrations for the September 21 and 22 dates will be announced in the near future.

For more information, to reserve seats at the free admission events, or to purchase tickets to the Rooster Ball or “Broadway Sings for Newtown,” visit NewtownArtsFestival.com.

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