A festival in plein air

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By Amanda Johnson

NORWAY—”It’s not just the art show,” says Lisa Moore, a committee coordinator of the Norway Arts Festival, adding that there are plenty of different kinds of art —from music to theater to readings— that are showing this year.

Thousands of artists, art observers, performers and locals are expected to flock to the 47th Norway Arts Festival, which begins at 7 p.m. tonight, July 10. Traffic on Main Street will be closed from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, as posted on Boomer’s Facebook page.

During previous Norway Arts Festivals, artists from across the area showcased exhibits all down Main Street. Food was served to the public throughout the day, and local businesses utilized the traffic that the festival produced to boost business.

Getting the word out about the arts festival started with a kick-off spaghetti dinner in April, Moore says, adding that the festival committee is made up of members its two sponsors—Norway Downtown and Western Maine Art Group. Other people who have helped make the event possible are donors, volunteers and, more specifically, Otisfield resident Zizi Vlaun, who designed the arts festival website, where artists’ register for the festival.

“It’s all volunteers, we meet very regularly,” says Moore. “We build on work that has been done over the last 10 years.”

Events begin on Thursday night with a presentation of historical figures Cyrus Tucker and his wife Kate Dennison’s lives, played by Ben Tucker (a great-great-great nephew of Cyrus) and his friend, Margo Pullen. It shows at 7 p.m. the Norway Memorial Library on 258 Main St.

On Friday, the Norway Grange at 15 Whitman St. will host the Friends of the Library used book sale. This will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and continues through the weekend.

At 6 p.m. on Friday, singer-songwriter Dan Coyle of New York will perform at Tucker’s Pub until 9 p.m. (See related story on page 1A.)

Saturday is the biggest day of the arts festival, during which there are nearly 15 different performances, exhibits, book signings and more. Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. seven different acts will be featured in the in the tent on Main Street. First will be performer Brad Hooper, followed by Mountain Poets showcasing their work and then Kristen Short and Rusty Wiltjer. At noon, the Celebration Barn of Paris take center stage, followed by “Ukelady Family Music” by Mary Christine Hargreaves. Live music will be at Tucker’s Pub between noon and 4 p.m. for anyone who wants to listen in.

Apart from the artists and performers showcasing their talents at the arts festival, the area will be other sporting events. The Norway Triathlon is back and will start at the Pennesseewassee Park on Route 118 in Norway on Saturday at 8 a.m. Participants will need to register prior to the event.

On Sunday evening, the Matolcsy Arts Center at 426 Main St., will have a ribbon cutting for its grand reopening.

Moore estimates that with vendors, performers, artists and visitors, anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people attended last year’s festival. She said that more than 60 artists and performers have already registered this year. The rain date for the art show on Saturday will be Sunday, but Moore is hopeful that it won’t be a problem.