In its eighth year, the Wooster Arts Jazz Fest, which is presented through a partnership amongst Main Street Wooster, the Wooster City Schools and the Wooster Rotary Club, has grown into one of Wooster’s most popular and well attended events.
Visitors to the Arts Jazz Fest strolled through the streets of downtown Wooster wearing Mardi Gras beads, nibbling on mouthwatering gourmet food from area restaurants, viewing the work of talented artists from throughout the country, and listening to top jazz bands perform.
The artisan booths that lined the streets of downtown were filled with a wide variety of art, from elegant clay pots and sleek stainless steel jewelry to whimsical paintings and breathtaking photographs.
In addition to doing a brisk business, the 100 talented artists participating in the 2011 edition of the Wooster Arts Jazz Fest also took part in a juried art competition judged by a panel of art experts.
Taking Best of Show honors was renowned local Wooster potter Jim Spires, while JT Dunphy took the Best Booth award. Judges’ Choice awards were also presented to Doug Derring, Neil Kemarly, Matt and Stacy Scofield, Diane Marks-Wright, Todd Malenke, Nicole Moore and Cody Nicely.
Kids attending the Arts Jazz Fest took their turn at creating a little art of their own at PNC Bank sponsored Kids’ Creation Station. In addition to face painting compliments of art students from Wooster High School and a puppet show put on by members of the WHS Drama Club, children had the opportunity to take part in a wide variety of hands-on art activities including decorating masks and umbrellas for the jazz parade and crafting colorful butterflies.
As visitors to the festival followed along carrying colorful umbrellas, the River City Dixieland Band led a New Orleans style jazz parade through the streets of downtown.
The Cleveland based quartet also entertained the crowd at the gazebo with its vintage Dixieland Jazz style. A crowd favorite, the quartet has performed at the Arts Jazz Fest for almost every year the event has been held.
Taking the main stage as this year’s featured performer was the highly acclaimed Akron Big Band. Founded more than 50 years ago, the Akron Big Band is one of the longest continuously performing big bands in Ohio. The band’s mission is to create new memories for the young and bring back the good old memories for older generations.
Rounding out the continuous live jazz music was a pair of local jazz groups including Standard Time Jazz and the Ron Busch Quartet.
Acoustic guitarist Victor Samalot also serenaded festivalgoers as a strolling musician.
The Arts Jazz Fest also featured plenty of gourmet food. Some of the area’s top restaurants, including Wooster Inn, Kate’s Treats and Eats, Sue-min’s Chinese Gourmet and the Faithful Little Cupcake, showcased the talents of their chefs at the Arts Jazz Café.
According to Wooster Arts Jazz Fest organizers, in addition to providing a free, quality arts event suitable for all ages, the Arts Jazz Fest supports arts education in the Wooster City Schools, economic development activities in downtown Wooster through Main Street Wooster and the Wooster Rotary Club’s college scholarship program for area students through private and corporate sponsorships.
For more information on the Wooster Arts Jazz Fest, visit the website at http://www.woosterartsjazzfest.org.
Published: September 21, 2011