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Arts Festival Planners In High Gear For Return Of Annual Event At Fairfield Hills Campus



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UPDATE (Tuesday, August 31): This feature has been updated to include the addition of an opening band for September 17, and the updated schedule for that event.

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The 2021 Newtown Arts Festival will take place next month.

That’s the promise from Newtown Cultural Arts Commission Chair Laura Lerman and Arts Festival Chair Barbara Snyder, who are doing everything they can to make sure a second consecutive festival is not canceled.

This year’s event is scheduled for Friday through Sunday, September 17 to 19.

High on the list of priorities for the two key planners is the continued presence of COVID-19. The region and its residents need something positive to look forward to, however, according to both.

“I am very concerned about COVID and want everyone in our community to be safe,” Snyder told The Newtown Bee on August 23. “To that end, we will be following all state guidelines and protocols.

“The festival is outdoors, and we live in one of the three best states in the country in terms of vaccine rate per 100,000 population,” Snyder added.

Snyder plans to wear a mask for the duration of the festival, she said. She does not plan to require everyone to wear them, she added.

She will encourage “all attendees to practice safety measures,” she noted. Tents will be spaced farther apart than in past years and hand sanitizer stations will be available in multiple locations.

One of the year’s new offerings will also allow no-contact admission at the gate, as the festival committee has introduced an online ticketing option.

“Using TicketLeap is a new thing for us, and it’s an exciting addition,” Snyder said on August 24. She and Lerman spent a few minutes at Fairfield Hills that morning. While children from a soccer camp played on the large field, the women surveyed the space that will host the festival in just a few weeks.

“With online tickets, people can walk up, show their tickets on their phone, and buzz right in,” Snyder said. “They don’t have to handle cash.”

The second benefit she sees to the new option is its speed.

“If someone is running late for a performance or workshop they really want to get to, this will allow them into the grounds that much faster,” she added.

Lerman said that with the cancellation again of the Labor Day Parade and Newtown Day — two large outdoor events canceled for a second straight year, among many still affected by the ongoing pandemic — “Newtown really needs this. We need something positive and fun to look forward to.”

Alternate Routes Opening Night

The weekend will open on Friday with a performance by the Alternate Routes. Snyder is very excited about booking that gig.

“They are an American rock band, formed in 2002 when Tim Warren and Eric Donnelly were studying at Fairfield University,” she said this week. “They were featured at the 2014 Winter Olympics and had a partnership with Tom’s Shoes. They also earned an Independent Music Award in 2016 and visited the White House that same year.”

Nearly a year after 12/14, Donnelly and Warren were also special guests of Reed Intermediate School music teacher Michelle Tenenbaum. Donnelly and Warren rehearsed the Alternate Routes original song “Nothing More” with RIS sixth grade chorus and concert choir members, and then performed during their winter concert that season.

In a conversation with The Newtown Bee in November 2013, Warren said he wrote the song for Newtown Kindness, the organization founded in memory of Charlotte Bacon. The song was designed to mirror the motives of that organization, “which is to promote, inspire, and encourage acts of kindness,” Warren said.

The 2021 Newtown Festival chair appreciates the band’s continued work.

“They are great lyricists, great musicians, and have a wonderful message,” Snyder said this week.

The evening will open with a performance by Gold Roots.

Tickets are $25 for lawn seating, $35 for VIP seating, and $250 for a table for six. The early bird table purchase price of $210 has expired.

A wine and beer garden and food trucks will be available that evening.

Gates will open at 5:30 pm and the music will begin at 6:30.

Weekend Plans

The 2021 Newtown Arts Festival will then run from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Originally announced with a 4 pm Sunday closing, Snyder confirmed this week that the gate will remain open until 5 pm.

Entrance to the festival will be from the southern corner of the field. Admission is $5 adults and $3 for ages 6-12. Children age 5 and under will be admitted free of charge.

Artists, crafters, and artisans will be on site on Saturday and Sunday, when the soccer/baseball/softball field surrounded by Keating Farms Avenue and DG Beers Boulevard will be filled with tents, tables, booths, and seating.

“We have more than 40 local artisans coming to show and sell their paintings, woodworking, jewelry, and other artistic creations,” Snyder said. “We are excited to welcome back many past artists, and I am so excited to see the new artists who signed up this year.”

The food trucks and beer and wine garden will also continue to be on site.

“Attendees will have their choice of several different types of cuisine, including vegan options and dessert favorites,” Snyder said. With nine planned food vendors, “there will undoubtedly be something for everyone.”

The full schedule and a map of the grounds will be posted online closer to the festival weekend. Meanwhile, Snyder teased that there will be a master dance class on Saturday to be taught by Maddie Rodrigue, who debuted at Radio City Music Hall as a Rockette; featured artist Sova Dance & Puppet Theater, which will conduct workshops and make festival walkabouts, is scheduled for a Sunday afternoon show; and the music tent is “fully booked,” she said, for both days.

Crowd favorite Newtown High School Marching Band will once again wake up Sunday’s crowd with an 11 am performance.

Lerman said attendees can look forward to the return of “The Freeway” — four tents plus the terrific Totes tent that are filled with activities and craft activities to see and do and for which there is no charge — when they arrive at the festival next month.

“The Make and Take tent will have the legendary Cardboard University both days as well as different crafts; and on Saturday, members of the Society for Creative Arts in Newtown will be demonstrating plein air painting at the Art Oasis,” she added. “On Sunday, the Art Oasis will have a fiber arts demonstration and crafts, and Sir Real Coloring will have its own tent for a cool break for the day.”

Also returning is the Art of Science tent. Both days, Everwonder Children’s Museum will lead activities from 11 am to 2 pm, followed by the Discovery Museum of Bridgeport from 2 to 5 pm.

General admission tickets for Saturday and Sunday are available now at newtownartsfestival. A QR code in the festival ad on page A-2 this week leads directly to the festival’s website, where tickets for all three days can be purchased. Tickets will also be available at the gate.

The Newtown Arts Festival is sponsored by Newtown Cultural Arts Commission. Proceeds support scholarships for high school seniors who live in Newtown and grants to Newtown arts organizations and artists.


Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

2021 Newtown Arts Festival Chair Barbara Snyder, left, and Newtown Cultural Arts Commission Chair Laura Lerman stand on the corner of the large playing field at Fairfield Hills on August 24. The field where day campers were playing soccer that day will soon be filled with artisans, performers, food and drink vendors, and — the women and their committees hope — plenty of people enjoying this year’s Newtown Arts Festival. —Bee Photo, Hicks
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