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Food, fun, sun at arts fest

September 1, 2013
By MARK J. MILLER - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

TORONTO - The 36th annual Festival of the Arts Saturday - sponsored by the Focus in Toronto Organization - included sunny skies, warm weather, lots of entertainment and arts and crafts.

The festival, which continues today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., attracted a steady crowd all day Saturday around the city gazebo commons, with great eats, courtesy of Davis Foods, the Toronto Band Parents and the Riverview United Methodist Church.

The festivities began at 11 a.m., with a welcome by John Parker, city safety director, followed by the choosing of Little Miss Lion. with Khloey Stock, 12, daughter of Kelly Bickerstaff, earning the honor by picking the odd-colored rose.

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A FESTIVAL OF FUN — The 36th annual Festival of the Arts in Toronto, sponsored by the Focus in Toronto organization, included sunny skies, warm temperatures, good eats lots of art and craft vendors. The festival Saturday opened with a raucous set by the Toronto High School Marching Band. The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. -- Mark Miller

Following was a raucous performance by the Toronto High School Marching Band, pumped up for the high school's opening game last night against Wellsville. Other performers Saturday on the main stage at the Riverview United Methodist Church parking lot included the Sassy Shakers, the Broken Arrow Band, Rose Angelica and the Fossils.

Also barbecuing chicken dinners near the Riverview Church was the Toronto Lions Club, partially responsible for the aroma of good food in the festival air throughout the day. Bob Woodside, first vice president for the Toronto Lions, said it wouldn't be the Festival of the Arts without the famous Lions Club chicken dinners.

"(Sales) are going very well today," said Woodside, adding the Lions had been a tradition at the festival since its founding. "We'll be here until we sell out. The public have been great supporters of the Lions Club and what we do."

Toronto 2nd Ward Councilman Dorothy Blaner said she was more than happy to come out and support the event.

"This is the best day out of the year for Toronto," said Blaner. "And eating the Lions chicken dinners is a big part of the tradition."

Randy Henry, City Police chief, also was doing double duty Saturday at the Toronto Band Parents food table. Henry said he was having a great time and was especially proud of his son Dustin and daughter Chelsea being in the Toronto High School Marching Band.

"There's a lot of hard work that went into this," Henry said of the band's performance and the festival. "They are really learning the music well."

Crafters centered around the gazebo were selling every kind of craft and item imaginable, from kitchen knick knacks to locally made honey. Drawings for door prized were by the hour, while volunteers made sure everyone was having the best shopping experience possible.

Suzan and Joe Kovaleski of Buena Vista Honey Farms said this was their eighth year at the festival, and the good weather and sweet delights were bringing visitors to their booth.

"It's going really well," said Joe, adding the transparent beehive at their booth was a big attraction for the kids. "The weather is beautiful, and there are plenty of people around."

The Kovaleskis said their products, which included honey made strictly by bees, were in different flavors depending on the type of flower the bees were pollinating.

"It has to do with what nectar the flower produces," he said.

Justine Poole, festival co-organizer, said the day was going well, with volunteers from the Focus in Toronto organization making sure the event was "family and community-oriented. I think this year we have more variety in our vendors. Although we lost a few, this year's festival has brought our community together.

"'The Focus is on Toronto' - that's our motto," Poole continued. "Our mission is to promote civic engagement with community-driven events where friends, family and the community can enjoy safe and fun events."

Today's activities begin with a worship service on the main stage hosted by the Toronto Riverview United Methodist Church at 11 a.m.; the Mark Miller/Arianna Powell Jazz Guitar Duo at 12:15 p.m; the Toronto and Middle High School cheerleaders at 1:45 p.m; Spinning Jenny at 2:30 p.m.; and Ron Retzer from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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