Friday, March 5, 2021

Artists wait for word on Allentown festival

Allentown Art Festival Followup: The 2021 Allentown Art Festival has officially been cancelled as of March 27th. The announcement, released via the festival’s Facebook page, states that COVID-19 restrictions for large group gatherings have prevented the return of the event this year. President of the Allentown Art Festival, Rita Harrington Lippman, is putting the safety of patrons, artists, and vendors first. Despite this news, Lippman remains hopeful for the festival's return for next year.  - Shania Santiago

By Shania Santiago

            As summer approaches, so does the annual Allentown Art Festival. At least, that is what local artists are hoping for. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, last year’s show could only be viewed remotely. Many await news in regard to how the festival will be handled this coming June. 

            For over 63 years, the festival has showcased hundreds of artists, including those from the West Side. Even after the cancellation of last year’s in-person show due to the pandemic, 379 artists in 10 separate categories were displayed on its website.

            In the form of a virtual show, each artist was listed along with pictures of their five pieces and booth setup. In some cases, links to their online shops were also provided for those attending the virtual show to browse.

            The festival gives artists a platform to display their work to the public, as well as gives them the chance to sell their work. Those who attend the festival can potentially become customers of the selected artists. 

            “That show accounts for probably 40 or 50 percent of my income for the whole year,” David Manny said.  

Greeting card by David Manny

            Manny, founder of Feel Good Greetings Ink and Buffalo Treasures, is one of these artists. Manny has been a part of the festival for a total of 32 years, including last year’s virtual show.

            Manny said that he did not sell any of his work, a variety of calendars, magnets, stones, or dish towels, during last year’s virtual show.

            “They tried very hard in a time where everything was going down, nobody was spending any money anyway because they didn’t know when this thing was going to be over,” he said.

            The festival is accepting applications for 2021 via its  website. The 64th annual Allentown Art Festival is set to take place June 12 and 13 of this year.

            As of right now, it remains unknown under what circumstances the show will be held under with the pandemic still in the mix.  Festival officials are unsure of their plans.  

            “As of now we are preparing to have our festival. But the how is not yet known,” festival officials wrote on Facebook.

            Manny is hopeful that with the proper regulations put in place, this year’s festival could potentially take place in person.

            “People have been pent up for so long that we have to show, even if we’re distancing and masking,” he said.

            Alison Kurek has taken part in many of the Allentown festivals  in past years. While Kurek was technically a part of last year’s virtual show, she does not believe much came from it as far as her acrylic paintings and synthetic clay pieces being sold.

            Kurek does plan on taking part in this year’s show, if it happens. In the meantime, her work can be viewed in ShopCraft, 773 Elmwood Ave., on online in her Etsy store.

            “I’ve applied for this year’s show but who knows if it‘ll happen. If it does and I’m accepted into the show I’ll participate, but there will be a lot of restrictions,” she said. “Like most artists I’m in wait and see mode right now.”