Fayetteville church readies for final arts festival celebration

St. David’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville has hosted “Celebration of the Arts” for nearly 50 years. But that will soon come to an end.

Julia Goodwin at the 2014 Jazz Fest. She will perform with the Orange Juice jazz combo during the Celebration of the Arts. (Michael Davis/Syracuse New Times)

During the last 49 years, St. David’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville has earned kudos by hosting “Celebration of the Arts,” a jumbo-size, annual festival celebrating visual and performing arts in the Syracuse area. However, the parish is no longer able to stage the festival in its current format. Therefore, the event won’t continue after this year; parish officials are looking for other avenues to support the arts.

In the meantime, St. David’s is moving full-tilt with the 2019 festival, scheduled for Saturday, May 4, through Sunday, May 12. Works by 100 artists will be exhibited, encompassing a variety of media. Painters such as Philip Parsons, Sylvia Steen and Nikolay Mikushkin will all hang their work at the 2019 celebration.

And the festival will feature a range of other artworks: photos by Marna Bell and Willson Cummer, fiber work created by Mary Kester and Lauren Bristol. Dana Stenson’s jewelry, Tom Huff’s stone sculptures and Peter Valenti’s ceramics. Two of Donalee Peden-Wesley’s drawings will be displayed; she explores relationships between people and animals.

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Pieces by Hall Groat Sr., Arlene Abend, Jim Ridlon and Roy Simmons Jr. have their own appeal and also provide a sense of continuity. The quartet all took part in the first Celebration festival in 1971.

The gallery will be open Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, May 5, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday, May 7, to Thursday, May 9, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, May 10, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 11, and Sunday, May 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In the performing-arts segment, Orange Juice, a jazz combo based at Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music, will play on Sunday at 6 p.m. The septet features Julia Goodwin’s vocals and Nicholas Abelgore on trombone. The group is guided by Dr. John Coggiola.

In addition, Anyone Can Whistle, a musical satirizing conformity, will be performed on May 10, 7:30 p.m., and May 12, 2 p.m. The play was written by Arthur Laurents, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Abel Searor directs the production. There’s a suggested donation of $10.

Finally, there will be poetry workshops on Monday, May 6, and Tuesday, May 7, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be facilitated by Gloria Hefferman, author of the 2018 chapbook Some of Our Parts, and What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List, a collection of poetry that will be released later this year. Workshop participants must register in advance.

St. David’s Church is located on 13 Jamar Drive, off Maple Drive in Fayetteville. For information, call (315) 446-2112 or visit

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