Norway Arts Festival 2016 in Hindsight

This year, the Norway Arts Festival celebrated the art of Bernard Langlais and for the 49th year, offered lively art on Main Street. It kicked off on Friday, July 8, with a free lecture about Langlais at the Norway Library by local photographer and community activist Scott Vlaun of Otisfield. A significant body of Langlais work has found a permanent home in Norway, some at the Shepherd’s Farm Preserve on Crockett Ridge Road, others at the Roberts Farm on Roberts Road. Langlais massive and playful sculpture, “Mrs. Noah,” was featured on this year’s Festival poster.

Saturday July 9 brought rainy skies, but over 75 musicians, poets, dancers, painters, photographers, sculptors, artisans, non-profit booths, and food vendors persevered as Main Street was closed to all but pedestrians from 9 until 4. This year offered some new ventures including innovative workshops in ekphrastic poetry, book arts, and woodworking, plein air demonstrations, hay art by USM professor Michael Shaunessey, and the rousing addition of 195th Army Band of the Maine Army National Guard.

Other performers at the Town Square Kiosk were Brad Hooper, Rhythm Sparrow, Kristen Short, Martin Dockery’s Wanderlust sponsored by Celebration Barn; the Mountain Poets Society, Katey Branch and Ruby DayBranch, and Country Bruce. Main Street businesses pitched in, too: WMAG, The Advertiser-Democrat, Fare Share Co-op, the Dragon’s Lair, Books N Things, Café Nomad, and Fiber and Vine all contributed special programs and events.

Judges Mary Brooking, Jay York, and Caren Michel awarded $2000 in prizes.

Co-sponsors Norway Downtown and Western Maine Art Group gathered support from both Norway Savings Bank and Western Maine Health. Many volunteers gave time and energy: Barbara Traficonte, Andrea Burns, Marge Medd, Brenda Melhus, Brendan Schauffler, Lisa Moore, Lindsey Montana, Lee Margolin, Carol Huotari, Tally DeCato, Cyndy and Forrest Tinsley, Irina Kahn, Francois Fetchko, Rochelle Draper, Paula Everett and Tami Prescott. The Norway Police Department again did a great job keeping our street closed and safe.

Despite the rain, it was a grand day on Norway’s Main Street. Everyone went home soggy and chilly but also happy and proud of another successful Festival that honored our history, celebrated our arts, and brought people together from all over New England. Evaluations of the event were excellent and we look forward to Norway Arts Festival 2017, the 50th anniversary of the Art Show.