LANCASTER – Olivia Eckoles found herself a shady spot in Lancaster’s Fountain Square area to indulge in some Italian street painting—on the sidewalk. The Berne Union senior plans to be art teacher and braved Friday’s heat warnings to hone her art skills on the sidewalk surrounding the fountain during the Lancaster Festival, which celebrates the arts and encourages local artists to exercise their art skills on Fountain Square’s sidewalk.
“It feels good,” said Eckoles of both the hot weather and ability to draw on the public sidewalk. She said she loves festivals and heat didn’t bother her.
Lancaster resident Stephanie Knight couldn’t find any shade, but brought her own camping shelter to shield herself, her husband, and her two young children from the relentless sunshine as they drew on the hot concrete. The shelter and an electric fan made the heat bearable. “ Otherwise, this wouldn’t be happening,” she said. Knight creates tie- dye shirts whose sales proceeds go to cancer research. Her sidewalk art was indicative of her shirt designs. “I’m always trying to help people,” said Knight.
Art and music are the main themes of the Lancaster Festival, which features local artistry distributed among shops and businesses throughout the city, and musicians perform on all the city’s stages, public and private, July 20 through 30.
Community members manage the annual Lancaster Festival, which is a non-profit organization, under the creative leadership of Artistic Director Gary Sheldon.
At its core is the Lancaster Festival Orchestra, winner of the 2010 American Prize for Orchestral Performance, which performs at the Ohio University- Lancaster campus and venues throughout the city.
According to the Lancaster Festival’s web site, the event was inaugurated in 1985, under the artistic direction of Maestro Badea. Artistic Advisor Al Romano was joined by Festival Managers Eleanor Hood and Barbara Hunzicker in planning the event. The ‘ 85 Festival had an 8-day run and included two CSO symphony concerts, a CSO chamber concert at St. Mary Church, and a week full of community arts and music events. The ’85 Festival concluded with a memorable live battle reenactment on the hills above the OU- L Amphitheatre, accompanied by the CSO performing Beethoven’s “Wellington’s Victory.”
The Festival was extended to 10 days in 1986 and 1987, adding more performance locations throughout the city and expanding the programming for families and children. In autumn 1987, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra management made the decision to withdraw from the Lancaster Festival to establish its own Picnic & Pops series. Maestro Gary Sheldon was hired as music director and, after auditioning more than 300 professional musicians, created the Lancaster Festival Orchestra.
The Lancaster Festival Orchestra performed its first concert on Saturday, July 23, 1988, beginning the evening with Glinka’s ‘Overture to Russlan & Ludmilla’. That evening’s concert also included a special narration of John William’s ‘Suite from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”‘ by Christopher Reeve.
From the whirlwind beginning in 1985, through its re- organization in 1988, the Lancaster Festival and its orchestra have garnered increasing recognition for excellence. For 10 days in July, the city is transformed, the streets alive with people enjoying the festival’s all-inclusive offerings.
Photos by Scott Rawdon