Ready to show: YorkFest has more for kids, 100 artists


As the summer winds down, artists, musicians and poets will bring their creations to downtown York for the 2015 YorkFest Fine Arts Festival.

One hundred artists from around the country have been chosen to participate in the Festival Marketplace, open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, with booths and exhibits running along the rail trail starting at Philadelphia Street.

The festival includes food, free family entertainment and hands-on activities, a free jazz concert at the Capitol Theatre, walking historical tours and much more.

Expanding the festival: This year's YorkFest has undergone some changes, most notably the expansion of resources for the oldest and youngest festivalgoers.

The Cultural Alliance of York County has awarded a grant to help YorkFest expand the Hands-On Art Activity Area for Youth and Families.

"We got a grant, and we've partnered with Prime Art Supply and New Freedom Art," said Mary Yeaple, coordinator of special events for York City.

"New Freedom Art is going to be facilitating hands-on art activities called Meet the Masters, where children are going to be exposed to famous artists — we're going to give participating families a book or a gift certificate to Prime Art Supply ... maybe they can get some art supplies and continue the art at home."

The festival also received a grant from the York County Community Foundation through its Embracing Aging Initiative to create some rest stops and additional signage to make it easy for folks to find their way around, she said.

Other events include the YorkFest Poetry Spoken Here tent with two days of poetry, performance and drama, a jazz concert at the Capitol Theatre on Saturday night and a pedicab service offering rides to the Pennsylvania Cigar Box Guitar Festival on Saturday in the 300 block of West Market Street.

Returning: Two years ago, Marjorie Bowers of Lilburn, Georgia, had a very successful year as an artist at YorkFest.

"It was my first northern show because I had just started doing art fairs — my brothers all live in Hanover, so I just decided to come up and try my luck there," she said.

"I ended up winning an award of excellence and a people's choice (award) ... I was pretty much a newbie, it was pretty exciting and a nice show for me — I'm pretty excited to get up there this year."

Bowers described her style as pen and ink drawings with a splash of color, with subject matter that is often "a lot of historical stuff — it goes well in York."

After her initial success, the organization was eager to have Bowers return the following year.

Unfortunately, she was unable to attend last year's festival after losing one of her children.

This was not the first time — Bowers lost another child 10 years ago, which originally led her to pursue drawing as a means of handling her grief.

Bowers expressed gratitude toward Yeaple for keeping her involved in the festival throughout her difficult time.

"She sent me a card, she kept a space until the very last second for me ... I really appreciate anyone who does that," she said.

"It's really been a great release for me — that was devastating last year, but things are better this year."

Bowers returns this year with several new ink drawings, including a pen and ink drawing of freshly caught Chesapeake crabs.

Create Your Own Scarves: One of the most popular attractions at the festival is Richard Aldorasi's Create Your Own Silk Scarves exhibit.

"We have an on-site program which involves an art form called ebru," said Aldorasi, of Morton, Delaware County.

"We allow participants to create a floating picture with paint on water on which we pull prints onto 15-by-72-inch scarves."

"It's a printing art, it involves floating paint on a thickened water base ... sometime in the 15th century it was developed in Turkey."

An eight-year veteran of the festival, Aldorasi has been teaching this since the mid-1980s.

"I work through the Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts ... we work with art departments — we go in and do educational programs. This program was one of five that I used to offer," he said.

Art is crucial for children, he said, because it reaches some students who aren't interested in math or science.

"Not everyone is going to be an academic — if it weren't for music and art, I would have quit school in third grade," he said.

"It's been my pleasure to do this program ... we're introducing people to this ancient art form that they'd probably never come in contact with otherwise."

The program allows people to create gorgeous forms of color, and there's almost nothing you can do to make a mistake, he said.

Aldorasi said he continues to be impressed by York's artistic community after nearly a decade of participating in the festival.

"I think York itself has enormous push, they have a great art association right now ... there's a real great feeling for art there — for a small city in Pennsylvania, that's a real testimony."