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Susquehanna Summer Solstice Fest celebrates region with art, music

TIOGA – Exciting events are planned for this month as part of the music and arts festival slated for Tuesday through June 19 in French Azilum, between Wyalusing and Towanda, in Bradford County.

The Susquehanna Summer Solstice Fest will offer a variety of arts and educational events that will appeal to and inspire the entire family.

A plein air painting (meaning outdoors) on-site art competition will be the core part of the week-long event. Artists from throughout the northeast have been invited to come and portray the beauty of towns and landscapes in the Susquehanna Valley within 15 miles of French Azilum.

These plein air fests are popular throughout the country, but this will be the first ever in northeast Pennsylvania. The plein air activity will start with a nocturne paint-out in Wyalusing on Tuesday evening and conclude with an exhibit and awards ceremony on Sunday, June 19, at the TW Community Room in affiliation with the Blue Heron Artisan Shop on Main Street in Wyalusing.

There will be a preview show at French Azilum on Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. Each artist will have examples of their work on display.

The evening will include a talk on the region’s history and art along with music by the Doug Smith Jazz Combo. Reservations are required. Contact the BCRAC for tickets.

The music festival will take place on the historic and beautiful grounds of French Azilum from Friday to Sunday, June 17 to 19.

The performers will include some internationally renowned acts, including Clarence Spady, an award-winning guitarist from Scranton with several albums to his credit.

Emerald Rae, one of the best fiddle players in the country today will also be on the schedule.

Other performers include Li’l Anne and Hot Cayenne, a zydeco dance band from Ithaca, New York. The MAQ combo is one of the best Latin Jazz ensembles in the region and they’ll be playing Saturday night — preceded by a salsa dance lesson.

The genres of music in the fest range from old time, to jazz, to blue grass, Americana, blues, gypsy swing and folk. Two classes in historic dance forms will also be offered on Saturday in the pavilion with a wood dance floor.

Other activities for Saturday at French Azilum will include presentations on our region’s history, including a talk about historical artists such as Wilkes-Barre’s George Catlin, 19th century painter of American Indian portraits.

Several authors will be on hand to discuss their books that have relevance to French Azilum and the region. There will also be environmental and ecology talks addressing the preservation of the river. View the website for the complete schedules, entry fees and other information.

Tickets may be purchased at susquehannasolsticefest.com or at the gate.

For children ages 8 to 16, there will be a mural painting project lead by Jan Lokuta, of Dupont, on Saturday morning at French Azilum. Also of interest to children and the young at heart, there will be a talk on giant salamanders of the river on Saturday by Peter Petokas, a freshwater ecologist.

On Sunday at noon, a youth performance is scheduled for musicians between the ages of 12 and 24. Registration is required. Contact the BCRAC to sign up.

Finally, a river paddle is planned on Saturday morning, starting at 8 a.m., on the stretch of the river between Wysox and French Azilum.

Reservations are required and they can be made through Endless Mountain Outfitters in Sugar Run. Contact Keith Brown at kayaks@ptd.net or ‭570-764-7102‬. A $20 donation is requested to the SSSF in addition to any rental fees.

The Susquehanna Summer Solstice Fest is under the auspices of the Bradford County Regional Arts Council and it has received the support of many businesses, organizations and individuals.

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