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Newtown Arts Festival Fosters Weekend For Creative Hearts



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The Eighth Annual Newtown Arts Festival, sponsored by Newtown Cultural Arts Commission, drew nearly 5,000 people from in and out of town to enjoy three days of art, from September 20-22, at Fairfield Hills.

Volunteers wearing decorative heart T-shirts, designed by local artist Paula Brinkman, worked tirelessly to make a memorable weekend that not only brought the community together and supported local art, but inspired the creative hearts and minds of all in attendance.

Nighttime Tunes

As the sun began to set last Friday evening, the kickoff party was just beginning for the 2019 Newtown Arts Festival on September 20. Guests navigated through the Wine & Beer Garden, noshed on food truck delights, and took their seats on hay bales and fold out chairs in front of the concert’s stage.

Musicians Chris Daly and Conor Brennan opened the show with a roaring good time that brought attendees to their feet to feel the music.

The duo played a mix of cover songs and originals that showcased Mr Daly’s powerful vocal pipes.

When the band went to thank the crowd and exit the stage at the end of their set, fans yelled out “one more song,” to which they obliged.

The evening’s headliner, Merchants of Rhythm — David Wheeler, Freddie “Fredo” Merrill, Dave Boyle, Butch Bochino, Chris Durham, and John Zulli — got things grooving during their set and were later joined by special guest Jim Allyn.

Among those out in the audience was Mr Merrill’s 4-year-old daughter, Rosalie, who proudly supported her dad’s music by doing enthusiastic twirls and twists, dancing in the grass.

Newtown resident Connie Widmann also danced the night away and between sets and told The Newtown Bee, “I love the Arts Festival… [Chris Daly and Conor Brennan] are super talented. I came to support them and The Merchants of Rhythm.”

Festival Fun

Walking into the festival on Saturday and Sunday, patrons were faced with the difficult choice of where to begin.

Large sculpture exhibits of metal work and seashell creations enticed the sights of people passing by, the sounds from the Entertainment Stage beckoned to the ears of all musical tastes, and the Dance Pavilion caused people’s jaws to drop from the athletic feats.

In between these spots were vendors in tents selling everything from photography and jewelry to hula hoops and board games. There were also multiple craft areas for all ages where people could make fiber art, science experiments, and more.

Ms Brinkman manned the tables where attendees could decorate reusable bags, courtesy of PeaceLove Art, who donated all the paint and brushes. A whopping 222 bags were painted.

Lining the edge of the festival by the trees were multiple food trucks to fuel, hydrate, and offer shade to the patrons on the warm 80-something degree days.

Evening Of The Arts

Music, poetry, theater, and the art of whistling entertained guests at An Evening of the Arts on Saturday, September 21.

A maze of artwork and sculptures spread across the Fairfield Hills lawn led to a small performance area where the New England New Music Ensemble played their “unique and daring compositions” of chamber-style music. Members Gregg Abimael, Phil Crevier, Kristen Provost Switzer, Scott A. Provost Switzer, and Robert Rabinowitz combined efforts to produce a musical blend of sound.

One familiar tune about a baby shark had people dancing, while other pieces were more experimental. Enjoying one tune in particular were Jackson and Sadie Baimel, watching their father play the clarinet and saxophone. With the Baimels was friend Katie Murphy.

Following the band to the stage was poet Philip Gross of Newtown, who recited both humorous and introspective work. His first reading was “Memories of Living,” and another poem was addressed to his GPS.

Getting ready for their performance Saturday were Town Players of Newtown actors, including Simone Matusevice, who perfectly knotted Steven Schmidt’s tie.

Newtown High School senior Shivani Mendiratta, a recent Masters of Musical Whistling competitor, closed out the Evening of the Arts on Saturday, regaling the crowd by whistling classic and contemporary tunes.

Magnolia Mikula demonstrates her hula hooping skills in front of the vibrant Bring the Hoopla tent, run by her mother, Nicole Mikula. Bring the Hoopla offers local afterschool programs and will be having a class at Newtown Community Center this fall, starting mid-November. —Bee Photo, Silber
Special guest Jim Allyn, third from left, joined The Merchants of Rhythm on stage during the Newtown Arts Festival kickoff concert at Fairfield Hills on Friday, September 20. —Bee Photo, Silber
Torch flames helped light up the night during the Newtown Arts Festival’s Friday evening concert on September 20, and a sign reading “Party’s this way” guided guests toward the stage. —Bee Photo, Silber
Fans from the crowd applauded as musicians Chris Daly and Conor Brennan performed at the Newtown Arts Festival on Friday night. —Bee Photo, Silber
Musicians Conor Brennan, on drums, and Chris Daly, on guitar, kicked off the Newtown Arts Festival concert on Friday, September 20. —Bee Photo, Silber
Chris Daly and Conor Brennan opened the show at the Newtown Arts Festival at Fairfield Hills September 20. —Bee Photo, Silber
Westley Sears, 3, watches as his friend Shiloh Previti-Brown, 6, takes a closer look inside a large decorative conch shell at The Eco Echo Orchestra display, created by artist Chandler Davis, at the Newtown Arts Festival on September 21. Neither said they could hear the ocean. —Bee Photo, Silber
Georgia Palmbach cranks a wooden mechanism to make a custom jump rope at the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School’s tent on Saturday, September 21. The activity was done by having the child select multiple colored rope, stringing it on hooks, and twisting the strands together. Georgia’s mother, Lauren Palmbach, said this was her daughter’s third year attending the Newtown Arts Festival and that they made sure to return because, “She loves art… and it’s a fun day.” —Bee Photo, Silber
Cailee Harvey, of The Graceful Planet Studio of Dance, outstretches her arm towards the audience during a modern dance number on Saturday, September 21. —Bee Photo, Silber
Graceful Planet Studio of Dance students Lauren Murphy, left, and Katy Gaffney performing to the “Warrior” song at the Newtown Arts Festival’s Dance Pavilion on Saturday. —Bee Photo, Silber
Amanda D’Alessandro proudly holds her freshly painted reusable bag with local artist Paula Brinkman, who oversaw the LovePeace Art table where it was created. Saturday was Amanda’s first time attending the Newtown Arts Festival, and her mother, Amy, said, “It’s a beautiful day, and it’s been wonderful. We’re enjoying it.” —Bee Photo, Silber
Xtreme Cheer CT students demonstrate high-flying stunts for the Newtown Arts Festival crowd on Saturday, September 21. At the top is flyer Chastatie Figueroa, holding her up is coach Dillon Quinlan-Huertas, and Elexa Talbot and Corinne Sadinsky work as spotters. Also participating in demonstrations were Rylan Talbot and Julisiti Figueroa. “It’s our first time at the Arts Festival,” Xtreme Cheer CT owner Dana Talbot said, “We can’t wait to come back and do more next year.” —Bee Photo, Silber
The Rice and Beans food truck saw many patrons throughout the Newtown Arts Festival weekend, especially during lunchtime on Saturday, as seen here. —Bee Photo, Silber
Simone Matusevice helps Steven Schmidt with his tie before the Town Players performance during An Evening of the Arts. —Bee Photo, Bobowick
Cara, Hayden, and Violet Hughes enjoy a painting by Julia Provey of caricatures holding glasses of drinks outside the Wine & Beer Garden. The art was painted on cardboard, and Cara called it “impressive,” especially since it was done “on a broken-down box.” Also greeting guests just past the entrance was Ms Provey’s sculpture of a hand, at least six feet tall, with pink fingernails. —Bee Photo, Bobowick
Dancing in a line were beer garden guests enjoying a song about a baby shark. —Bee Photo, Bobowick
Philip Gross read several poems at an Evening of the Arts on Saturday, September 21. —Bee Photo, Bobowick
The New England New Music Ensemble played their chamber-style music Saturday evening. —Bee Photo, Bobowick
As evening light faded, floodlights lit the lawn at Fairfield Hills, catching these attendees in silhouette. —Bee Photo, Bobowick
Cole Thompson excitedly looks back to see that the circle wand in his hand has created a long bubble behind him on Sunday, September 22. —Bee Photo, Silber
Pictured from left are Ashurst Academy of Irish Dance students Madden Curran, Emily Delp, Abby Onorato, and Raeanne Yeomans, performing Sunday at the Newtown Arts Festival. —Bee Photo, Silber
A large crowd gathered in great anticipation to enjoy a performance by Ashurst Academy of Irish Dance at the Newtown Arts Festival on Sunday, September 22. —Bee Photo, Silber
Local artist Paula Brinkman helps Cecelia Ragusa as she paints a reusable bag at the Newtown Arts Festival on Sunday, September 22. —Bee Photo, Silber
Julie Rhodes performs at the Newtown Arts Festival on the afternoon of September 22. —Bee Photo, Silber
From left are Newtown High School Best Buddies members Nolan Adis, Ava Holmes, Samantha Kuruc, Bryan Bailey, and Faith O’Hara at the Newtown Arts Festival on September 22. The students educated attendees at their booth about the how the program, which has been around since 2003, is a club focused on inclusivity and creating friendships between those with and without special needs. —Bee Photo, Silber
Dan and Pete Kids’ Hour was the first musical act of the day at the Newtown Arts Festival on Saturday, September 21. The band played popular children’s songs, including “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” —Bee Photo, Silber
Children practicing sun safety, wearing hats and sunglasses, sat in the shade with their family while listening to music from the Dan and Pete Kids’ Hour on September 21. —Bee Photo, Silber
Clear blue skies were overhead at the Newtown Arts Festival on Saturday, offering attendees a beautiful day to stroll the Fairfield Hills grounds and visit vendors’ tents. —Bee Photo, Silber
Ophelia Sears, 7, visits The Eco Echo Orchestra art display and checks out the “gigantic cool shells.” Her parents, Dylan and Danielle Sears, said they love returning to the Newtown Arts Festival for the “music and community” and to “support the arts.” —Bee Photo, Silber
The Eco Echo Orchestra artist Chandler Davis stands by his work of fiberglass conch, clams, mussels, nautilus, and scallops on display at the Newtown Arts Festival. His art, he says, is done to “bring awareness about the natural world.” It took just one trip with a large truck to transport all his art from Shelton to the festival in Newtown. —Bee Photo, Silber
Young musicians from the Paul Green Rock Academy performed for Newtown Arts Festival patrons Saturday afternoon. —Bee Photo, Silber
The Make and Take Tent at the Newtown Arts Festival oversaw a variety of activities on Sunday, including gel press printmaking, creating worry dolls, and knitting demonstrations. —Bee Photo, Silber
T-shirts featuring the current and previous Newtown Arts Festival logos hung for sale at the entrance tent. —Bee Photo, Silber
Next to the Entertainment Stage at the Newtown Arts Festival was a handmade sign that read “Dear music, thanks for always clearing my head, healing my heart, and lifting my spirit,” quoted by Lori Deschene. —Bee Photo, Silber
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