PIQUA — If you’re looking a good time on Friday night, make your way downtown to the 300 and 400 blocks of North Main Street for Taste of the Arts, Mainstreet Piqua’s annual festival of of arts, music, food and fun. As they do each year, a throng of thrill-seekers will take over the street to enjoy live entertainment, demonstrations by local artists and an array of edibles from more than a dozen area restaurants and caterers.
The musical headliner this year will be the Red Hot Rhythm Review out of Columbus. The nine-piece band performed briefly at Taste of the Arts last year, but had to cut their performance short because of rain. Red Hot Rhythm Review has a huge local following and is well-known for their energetic arrangements of popular R&B, funk and classic tunes.
The group’s lineup includes Nicki Jo Baker and Tammy Walkup (vocals), Chaz Mechenbier (keyboard/vocals), Mike Shoaf (bass/vocals), Jarrod Maille (drums), Steve Willis (saxophone), Tim Perdue ( trumpet) and Todd Bridges (trombone.)
Other music of the night will be performed by the four barbershop singers who form the very popular Back to School Quartet. A group with local ties to the Piqua community, these musicians have been singing barbershop music for many years and love to share their talents with all. The quartet — Jim Riley (lead), Ron Ventura (bass), Dale McKinney (baritone) and Matt Blatchley (tenor) — will be strolling Main Street, as well as singing inside many businesses throughout the evening.
Now in its 24th year, Taste of the Arts had been chaired from its inception by Cheryl Stiefel-Francis, but with her passing at the beginning of the year, the chair role is now being filled by Mainstreet Piqua’s Executive Director Lorna Swisher.
The celebration will run from 5-9 p.m. Admission is free, with minimal costs for taster-sized portions from more than a dozen food vendors from area restaurants and caterers.
A popular draw to Taste of the Arts is the professional artists who will be demonstrating their skills in Main Street storefronts and on the sidewalks, eager to share tips and advice to the festival crowds.
Tipp City watercolorist Rusty Harden, a self-taught artist who has painted professionally for 15 years, works in many media, but will be painting with watercolors starting at 6:30 p.m. She is the owner of the Rusty Harden Art Studio and Boutique, 110 E. Main St. in downtown Tipp City. In addition to housing her personal studio, the business boasts a shop offering unique vintage and artisan items, space for community-wide programs and a spacious fine arts studio where she teaches classes in many media.
“It is a privilege to be invited to Piqua to once again demonstrate for Taste of the Arts. I am honored to be asked,” Harden said.
If pottery is your passion, Mark and Amy McGraw, owners of Artistic Earth Pottery, a teaching studio in downtown Troy, located at 12 E. Canal St. just off South Market Street, will be throwing clay on a potter’s wheel throughout the evening in the alcove of the Apple Tree Gallery. The McGraws walked away from their jobs in the corporate world to pursue their interests in pottery, which Mark describes as a “total stress-relieving activity.” At their studio, they offer a variety of classes for children, teens and adults at every skill level, and also can offer pottery parties for groups.
Chainsaw sculptor Dayle Lewis will be demonstrating his craft in front of the Schmidlapp Building on Main Street. The self-taught artist, who teaches at Hayes Arboretum in Richmond, Indiana, said his favorite type of wood to use is Catalpa, “but I have carved in about every kind of wood there is.”
Lewis, who has taught more than 1,600 people from ages 8-88 in various cities and states, does 90 percent chainsaw and 10 percent hand carving. “I do approximately 325 carvings a year,” he said.
As a “special treat,” Sheryl Lazenby will show off her handiwork with sidewalk chalk. “Sheryl will be doing sidewalk chalking in front of Ken-Mar all day. Her work will be completed by 6 p.m., so attendees will want to be sure to check out her talents that evening while at the Taste of the Arts event,” Swisher said.
Additional artists demonstrating during Taste of the Arts will include wood carvers Don Worley and Jim Foster of the Dayton Woodcarver’s Society, pottery artist Pat Klopfenstein, quilters from St. Boniface Church, sketching and drawing demos by Megan Hager and Dan Knepper and others.
The Piqua Arts Council’s photography exhibition will be featured at the Schmidlapp Library, and the Piqua Public Library will be hosting the Ohio Watercolor Exhibition during the festival
Featuring 24 junior high and high school students from Mississinawa Valley, the Kuroi Taka Taiko drummers, will combine choreography and drumming with cultural costuming (masks, kimonos, and props) for festivalgoers’ entertainment. Their performance has been tentatively set for 6:15 p.m.
Kuroi Taka Taiko has performed throughout Indiana and Ohio, including at the Ohio State House, Langfest at Ohio State University, the second Summit of Educators, the Ohio School Board Association Convention, International Baccalaureate schools in Indianapolis, and many local and school events.
The drumming program was introduced at Mississinawa Valley in 2007, and currently has 63 students in four performance groups, ranging from fifth grade through high school. They play handmade drums of three sizes: the very large Okedo daido drums, the medium-sized nagada drums and the smaller shime daiko drums. Gongs, shakers, cymbals and other small trap instruments are also used.
For the small fry, the ever-popular Kids Zone will offer an abundance of activities for children to enjoy, such as free make-and-take craft projects, face-painting by Alter Ego (for a fee), spin art by Piqua Public Library, straw rockets by the Learning Place, beading fun by Young Life, and a variety of items by the Girl Scouts and the YMCA.
A special section of the Kids Zone will be the Imagination Station coordinated by Piqua Catholic School music instructor Rachel Birman. Students will perform and kids can try their hand at playing musical and rhythm instruments.
If friendly, competitive games tickle your fancy, you can have tons of fun with the giant wood games created specifically for Taste of the Arts by wood crafter Wayne Vondenhuvel. Giant Jenga, dominoes and Yard Yahtzee will test your skills. These will be available for all ages just south of the Kids Zone near the performance area of the Kuroi Taka Taiko drumming group.
In addition, the “Intersection of Fun and Friends,” hosted by Taste of the Arts committee volunteers Melinda Sillman and Duane Bachman at North Main and Greene Street, will proffer fun family activities like hula hoop and music trivia contests, and dancing ranging from the twist and “YMCA” to the Chicken Dance, bunny hop and line dancing. Scattered around the intersection will be benches and chairs for people to rest while enjoying the festivities.
There also will be an Awesome Piqua Photo Booth free to patrons, a green screen set-up by the Indian Nation Station (Channel 5), and a plethora of other attractions, entertainment and activities at Taste of the Arts.
For more information about the festival , contact Swisher at (937) 773-9355 or visit piquatasteofthearts.com.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at email@example.com or (937) 451-3341