Annual event finished for another year

Last updated: May 18. 2014 11:14PM - 3097 Views
By James O’Malley Times Leader Correspondent

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WILKES-BARRE — In the waning moments of the Fine Arts Fiesta, local reggae act George Wesley’s I-tations took the stage.

Addressing the crowd as “brothers and sisters,” Wesley and his band closed the annual arts festival Sunday evening, broadcasting their positive message about taking life a bit slower.

Public Square came alive with motion during the performance, as adults and children danced and grooved along. The timid in attendance bobbed and tapped to the energetic act from their seats, and vendors and staff shuffled behind the bandshell, packing their wares and disassembling the booths and tents.

Many of those dancing children wore animal designs, painted on their faces at the Just Plain Crazy FaceArt tent.

As the I-tations sound-checked, face-painter Ruth Casey made art of one more child.

The face-painters said they were busy all weekend, painting more than 300 faces Saturday and Sunday after seeing just seven children on the wet and windy Friday.

The face-painting gang said they’ll be back on the Square in the summer during the farmer’s market.

Eight minutes after the fiesta officially ended, pen-maker Richard Horner closed one final sale to a rock-steady beat.

Friday morning, Horner said, he found his tent falling over, its contents strewn about and some of his business cards floating away after the previous night’s wind and rain.

But, in the following days, he said his luck (and the weather) turned around, and he reported a busy weekend.

Horner, 53, Rimersburg, said he enjoyed the “super nice people” in Wilkes-Barre, as well as the helpful grounds crew and looks forward to returning in 2015. This was his first Fine Arts Fiesta.

In the meantime, he said, his future holds a summer full of art shows and festivals.

“It’ll be shows every weekend now until the end of October,” Horner said.

He said Allentown’s Mayfair Festival of the Arts is up next, a destination he shares with “visual rhythm” artist Georgie LeHoop, who said he’s also heading there next weekend.

This was also LeHoop’s first time at Wilkes-Barre’s festival, and he said he will “absolutely” be back in 2015.

After Friday’s near washout, LeHoop said attendance rebounded.

“The weather was great. Everything changed,” he said. “I had a great show.”

Executive Director Brian Benedetti said the turnout was “phenomenal,” especially during the three days of agreeable weather.

He called 2014’s Fine Arts Fiesta “a total artistic success,” and said he hopes to attract an even larger crowd next year.

“We’re still out for the rest of the Wyoming Valley,” he said.

Benedetti said he and other organizers have a few programming and entertainment “surprises in mind” for 2015, the event’s 60th year.

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