Arts on the Square brings art, food, entertainment and workshops to downtown Waupaca this weekend.
The fourth annual arts festival will be held Friday and Saturday, Aug. 20-21, on the city square.
Sponsored by the Waupaca Community Arts Board, the event is a collaboration among area businesses and arts-related groups.
“It’s all about building community throughout the area – not just the city,” said Marci Reynolds, president of the non-profit arts board.
That is why this year, the board has partnered with many other organizations from the area. Those organizations will be represented at the festival, and the arts board is also working to let people know about all of the activities and events taking place in the area this weekend – from the Lincoln exhibit at the Waupaca Area Public Library to the Triathlon at South Park.
Arts on the Square will feature 40 artists, entertainment for all ages – much of it encouraging participation – an expanded farmer’s market and workshops that allow those who attend the festival to get a hands-on art experience.
Reynolds is excited about this year’s event.
And, what better way to celebrate the way not only Waupaca – but all of the surrounding communities – have come together to experience the arts than with the Nia African/African-American Drummers and Dancers.
Juliet Cole is the associate director for the Institute for Learning Partnerships at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the founder of the group.
“I started this group as a way of promoting diversity in the area and giving people opportunities to cross boundaries through dance,” she said.
All of the dancers and drummers are volunteers.
“At any given time, we have up to 20 to 25 dancers and drummers,” Cole said. “It’s a community, university group – something that brings the two together.”
They practice on Monday nights year around and perform wherever they are invited, she said.
The youngest member started at age 4, and Cole said that during their performances, they try to teach about the African culture through dance.
Cole is originally from Nigeria. She first came to the U.S. and to Green Bay in 1973.
She said she felt the need to continue one of her Nigerian cultural traditions.
“I’ve danced all my life,” said Cole, who comes from a family of dancers.
She said involving children at an early age helps them to gain self confidence, and she said the idea is not to seek perfection but to celebrate the African American culture and to share it with others.
“We invite all to join us,” she said. “We want everybody to cross boundaries.”
Those visiting this weekend’s Arts on the Square will have plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Nia will perform at 5 p.m. Friday, lead a dance workshop at 11 a.m. Saturday, then perform again at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s been very successful. We have fun. We don’t see ourselves as performers. We see ourselves as African American dancers celebrating the culture,” Cole said. “We will encourage all to join us. Everyone will learn something. We’ll get everybody participating. We’re looking forward to having fun in Waupaca.”
2010 Arts on the Square Schedule of Events
Events run from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
• 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. – Chalk O’ the Town.
• 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Nia African and African-American Drummers and Dancers.
• 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Street Dance with Baba Ghanooj (all ages welcome).
• Dusk – Wega Arts Film Workshop.
Food will be available at Jamaican Kitchens. The beer tent will be open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Events run from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
• 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. – The Burton Suzuki Studio.
• 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. – The Ryan Tomski Trio.
• 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Ron Reynolds Sinatra Tribute.
• 2:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. – The Rakes of Mallow.
Dance and Drum Stage
• 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Drumming with Bill Kehl.
• 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Pep in Your Step.
• 2 p.m. – Nia African and African-American Drummers and Dancers.
Historic Bandstand Stage
• 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. – Recorders by the Bay.
• Noon to 12:30 p.m. – Jennifer Burton and Friends.
• 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. – One For the Road.
• 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – One For the Road.
• 11 a.m. to noon – Jennifer Burton and Friends.
• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Lincoln Garden Gazing Balls (Workshop Site 1).
• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Lincoln Penny Art (Workshop Site 1).
• 11 a.m. to Noon – Nia Dance Workshop (Dance and Drum Stage).
• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Community Batik Project (Workshop Site 2).
• 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. – Sim City Waupaca in Clay (Workshop Site 2).