By Katie Pugh, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Sunday was the final day of the Fine Arts Fiesta, an annual staple that kicks off summer with live entertainment, a wide selection of food, dozens of vendors and, of course, several tents of student and adult art.
Public Square was filled with life as singers and dancers lit up the stage of the band shell and crowds gathered to watch and grab lunch right to the very end. The Fiesta’s spirit didn’t leave the downtown until after a special tribute to local reggae artist George Wesley, who passed away last year, had closed out the festival and workers began to dismantle tents.
“I love coming downtown and seeing the wide variety of vendors who are here showing their handmade crafts,” said Bridget Giunta, of Wyoming.
“It’s a springtime tradition. I’ve also been a dancer here in years past.”
Giunta, 34, said the Fiesta has been a part of her life for as long as she could remember, as it will be with her infant son, Henry.
Giunta wasn’t the only one with a long history with the Fiesta.
“Mother Goose and Bertram” have been entertaining children at the festival for a quarter of a century.
“This is our 25th year coming to the Fiesta,” said Saskia Van Oot, who portrays Mother Goose with her puppet goose. “I probably goosed most of you when you were just a baby.
“We love the people and the children here. Even the teenagers are so nice and respectful to us. We live in Fredrick, Md., and come up to Wilkes-Barre every year for the Fiesta.”
At the information booth, Harry Grozio, a longtime volunteer, was at work giving directions and informational materials to visitors.
“Attendance for this year is about the same as every year, although it appears there are less booths this year,” he said. “It’s a nice crowd, and Friday is a big day for field trips. A number of buses with kids came from all over. It was packed, and they really seemed to be enjoying themselves.”
Grozio is also a patron of the arts and an oil-paint artist himself.
“There are a lot more photography submission each year. I’m not very concerned with exhibiting my work although I’ve done a few smaller shows,” he said. “But primarily, I am a student of art. I’m doing it for learning and self-fulfillment. But we really need more events like this in Wyoming Valley to promote the arts.”
While the Fiesta may be gone for this year, there are other ways to appreciate art around town.
A Third Friday Wilkes-Barre Art Walk takes place on the third Friday of every month and is free of charge. Thirdfridaywb.com has more information on when the walks are, what venues are involved and where to park. The Luzerne County Historical Society on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre also has art and local historical artifacts on display. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children.