Arts and Music Shine at the Cultural Festival Despite Weather

June 22, 2023

The Bedford Cultural District celebrated its one-year anniversary with live music, arts, and cultural activities on June 17. 

After months of planning by the Bedford Cultural District Partnership to hold their Music & Arts Festival 2023 on the Bedford Town Common with open house events at nearby venues, those intentions were foiled due to the impending weather forecast. Quick-witted Housing and Economic Development Director Jeff King on behalf of the planning committee asked the First Parish, Unitarian Universalist if they could move the festival inside the church. 

Despite the weather, the church was filled upstairs and downstairs with musicians, artisans, non-profit organizations, and lots of enthusiastic community members, and open houses were held at the Bedford Historical Society, Bedford TV, The Purple Pencil, Clayful Expressions, and the Council on Aging located around the Common. 

Visitors were entertained in the church sanctuary with musical performances by Zach Shen & the Funky Bunch (Jazz/funk fusion), Fretless (a cappella quintet harmonies), Mark Zelermyer & Friends (contemporary folk), and the Kadak Chai Band (Bollywood rock). 

In the Common Room, booths were set up with a myriad of local artisans showcasing, selling, and/or demonstrating their wares and non-profits and other organizations promoting their causes. 

Many booths featured jewelry that delighted the shopper’s eyes. For example, lovely pairs of earrings were co-stars among the other jewelry at the Au Moment booth.

At Ginny Remedi-Brown’s booth “Jewelry for the Journey,” she demonstrated how her pottery “Flutonians” could produce musical notes. 

All the money from the sale of hand-crafted items, such as scarves and shawls, at the “Sowing Opportunities, Inc” booth, is earmarked to support remote villages in Guatemala. 

Celeste Roemer and Michelle Faria each had a booth. Celeste introduced items such as a small birdhouse while Michelle featured gifts for dogs.

Josh Bartok‘s Zen-inspired digital images of his abstract photography were on display; the Bedford Arts and Crafts booth showcased small paintings on easels as well as handmade cards made by members that were for sale; and the Glass Co-Operative’s glass objects were a feast for the viewer’s eyes. 

Several local organizations were also present:

The Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce provided flyers such as “Starting and Operating a Business in Bedford” and held a raffle of donated items from local businesses. 

The Bedford Cultural Council and the Bedford Cultural District distributed handouts containing information about funding for artists and art projects as well as upcoming events.

Staff from The Bedford Citizen, the town’s free online news outlet that is beginning its 11th year, were available to talk about their accomplishments and future plans. 

The Friends of the Job Lane House had hand-outs for upcoming events such as the Job Lane Family Field Day, slated for Aug. 27. 

The Patrons of Music Students (POMS) were selling candy to raise money to redo “The Shack,” which many who have attended the local football games have visited. POMS has been active in Bedford for more than 60 years.  

Two unique and well-visited areas presented hands-on experiences: 

It was not hard to miss Leonard’s Music booth – just follow the diverse and plentiful sounds. Festival visitors had a fun time trying out a variety of musical instruments, some easier to play than others. How many people found their hidden musical talent? Will the next event be “Bedford’s Got Talent?” 

Muralist Sarah Scoville, who spearheaded the project to paint the utility boxes in Bedford, set up large canvases to be re-imagined by festival attendees. 

Everyone was invited to add their touch to a community mural. Staff photo by Wayne Braverman

Scoville said, “About a year ago, I attended a family day at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. I participated in a collaborative painting where they taped off an image on a canvas and everyone painted over the canvas including the tape. When it was finished, they removed the tape to reveal the image. When we started talking about doing a painting project that everyone could add to for the Bedford Art Fest, I immediately thought of the North Carolina Museum of Art project.”

She added, “On Saturday, this was a big hit. At first, people were very polite and didn’t paint much. Once more paint was on the canvases, people became more curious, and more eager to participate. By the end of the event, there was no white canvas left and we were ready to remove the tape. Quite a crowd gathered when the tape was removed revealing a landscape with trees in white and a colorful background that represents the community.” 

Upstairs, The Gallery@First Parish was open for people to view the work of the late artist Maureen Oates. This much-loved artist enjoyed working in a variety of art mediums, particularly acrylics. 

Her paintings depict her appreciation of trees and love of birds as well as her subtle sense of humor. Oates helped to found and sustain The Gallery@First Parish.

Sarah Scoville, right, displays the finished version of Saturday’s community-created three-panel painting. Staff photo by Wayne Braverman

People could also buy Bedford Farm’s Ice Cream and/or enjoy free coffee.

While there were many who attended the festival inside the First Parish, the open houses around the Common unfortunately did not fare as well due to the weather and lack of signage. For those who did venture out, here is a taste of what they experienced:

Although the Bedford Historical Society has had a large collection for many years, it wasn’t until they moved into their Old Town Hall space in November 2021 that they had adequate space to showcase their sundry treasures.

As Lee Vorderer and Sharon McDonald showed visitors around, their attention was drawn to artifacts such as the small student’s desk with a flip-up top and two ink wells, period clothing, children’s dolls, a cobbler’s desk, and many other historical items that stir one’s imagination about life in a bygone era in Bedford. To learn more, visit www.bedfordmahistory.org.

The smell of fresh popcorn drew visitors up to the second floor of the Old Town Hall to learn how Bedford TV is serving the community. Executive Director Brian Hebert explained their programming as well as their successful intern program that teaches middle and high school students about what goes into preparing a show before it goes on air. On the TV station’s wall is a list of interns and the impressive number of hours they have logged in. To learn about opportunities at Bedford TV go to https://bedford.tv

Namrata Siviya opened her art studio “The Purple Pencil” (99 Great Rd.) to have space to create and a place to teach. This is her first year and she already has several students. She likes to teach in a group setting but does not expect each artist to do the same thing. She likes to meet a student where they are and give individualized attention as needed. A sense of community has developed among her students and many return to her bright and welcoming space. For more information visit www.purplepencil.art.

The Clayful Expressions featured a collection of skillful pottery by Teresa Deible and digital photos by Linda Genovese. To learn more about Deible’s work go to www.clayfulexpressions.com or visit her cozy shop on Springs Road.

A display of greeting cards created by the seniors was on display at the Bedford Council on Aging. This year’s card competition winners – announced at the Throckmorton Art Show in April – were Claire Anderson, Nancy Brown, Lyn DiBiase, Kathy Morse, and Bruce Fountain Stalker. The cards – depicting birthday wishes, happy holidays, and other events – are mailed to Bedford seniors throughout the year. 

The Bedford Free Public Library hosted an art gallery tour while the Friends of the Library held a sidewalk book sale, protected from the elements. There’s something special about reading good books, especially on a rainy day!

Overall, Sylvia Mallory, a member of the planning team for this event, said, “It might have been pouring outside, but inside we had an outpouring of creativity and good spirit as we enjoyed four outstanding music performances and a marketplace with all kinds of art, crafts, and artist demos. It was a great, fun day for the town and the Cultural District.”

To see more events the Bedford Cultural District is planning go to:

www.bedfordma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2659/Summer-2023-Cultural-Events.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council provides key financial and programmatic support for the Bedford Cultural District.

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Doris Smith is an Arts and Cultural Reporter for The Bedford Citizen. She was supported by a grant from the Bedford Cultural Council from December 2022 - June 2023.

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June 26, 2023 6:10 pm

Thanks @Doris-smith for a lovely article and @wayne-braverman for the photos. We had a blast performing at the 2023 Festival! Thanks for your coverage of Kadak Chai Band (Instagram @kadak.chai.band)!

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