By Allison Collins
SIDNEY – Saturday, July 15 marked the 17th annual Sidney Arts and Music Fest and, despite being held in a different location this year, the day was a success. Because of the in-progress downtown renovation, the festival was held at Keith Clark Park on River Street.
Late in the afternoon Stephanie Taylor, past president of the Sidney Chamber of Commerce, said, “I’ve been here all day since 7:30 [a.m.] and it’s been very well-attended.” Noting that “a lot of people” passed by the chamber tent and into the festival proper, Taylor added, “With everything so spread out it looks sparse, but had it been on Main Street we would’ve been packed to the gills.” Gesturing to the Keith Clark Park playground and the expansive grounds, Taylor said, “Kids have something to do and there’s just more of a festival feel here.”
Acting president of the Sidney Chamber of Commerce, Jaime Cole, said the same, stating, “It’s been pretty good and there [have] been a lot more positive vibes.”
Cole noted that the festival, timed to coincide with the annual Sidney Alumni Association’s All-Class Reunion Weekend, benefited from the influx of visitors. “There are a lot of people in town and there’s some crowd advantage [to that],” said Cole.
Asked if future iterations of the yearly event would continue to be held in the park, given the success and added room for growth it allows, Cole said, “We think so. That’s been the general consensus.”
The increased space meant more vendors, noted Taylor, saying, “We had 36 vendors, so that’s up from last year quite a bit.” The festival had 22 vendors in 2016.
Leslie Ford, a vendor from Guilford and Sidney alumna, said that she participated in the festival three or four years ago and decided to “give it another shot” in 2017. Ford said she was “actually pleasantly surprised” by the day’s turnout. Echoing that, Taylor said, “Everything has done really well.”
New this year was the juried student art show, featuring pieces from tri-town area students spanning grades 9 through 12, presented and curated by the Harrington Gallery with sponsor, American Bluestone.
Noting the success of the show, Taylor said, “There was lots of nice, really incredible stuff.” Cole added, “The art show helped a lot. That was a hit and brought a lot of parents and fans of the artists in.” Cole noted that Dan Harrington, gallery owner and organizer of the student show, “did a really great job.”
Dan Harrington said the show, which highlighted the work of students in four area districts, Afton, Bainbridge-Guilford, Sidney and Unatego, was thanks to the efforts of many. He explained, “The idea was to get maximum participation and the [sponsoring] businesses really stepped up.” Winners received considerable cash prizes and 12 students were recognized with citations and accompanying backpacks, donated by ACCO Brands. Harrington credited sponsors Robert and Debbie McDuffey of American Bluestone, particularly, saying, “They really reenergized the show.”
Harrington said, “This was my first year on the [festival planning] committee and I’m really pleased with the improvements.” He added, “My goal has been to shift the focus more to art.”
The festival also included an inaugural color run, presented by Catholic Charities, and performances by local dance studios and musical favorites such as Two of Us and the Woodshed Prophets. The event culminated with a classic car cruise-in at day’s end.