TORONTO — Intermittent rain showers weren’t enough to dampen the spirits of the many people who made their way to the Toronto Art Festival on Saturday and Sunday.
Local residents and out-of-town visitors could be found browsing the assortment of merchandise sold at kiosks in the Gazebo Commons area of town and along North Third and Market streets, taking part in the assortment of food sold by other vendors and sitting down to enjoy the many musical acts that performed in the parking lot of Riverview United Methodist Church.
“It’s always amazing how many people come out,” said Brenda Cich, president of Focus in Toronto, a group of volunteers who have organized the 44-year-old event for each of the past 14 years.
Cich said she was grateful to those who showed up the first year, when there were just 35 vendors, and every year until now when that number has more than doubled.
“We have come a long, long way. We have a great turnout from everywhere,” she says.
Among the many people who came from outside of Gem City for the event was Julie Kirkton from Pittsburgh, although she admitted to having a local connection: her father, Bud Grygo, who lives in Toronto.
“I like to look around at jewelry and gifts,” said Kirkton, who stopped by to view merchandise being sold by Ron DuMoul, also known as the Village Broommaker.
Wellsville resident DuMoul created a variety of canes and brooms, among many handcrafted items sold at the festival.
A retired First Energy employee, DuMoul said he was inspired to pursue craftsmanship after seeing a craftsman do the same at a craft show in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, about 13 years ago. year.
“I came home and went to my garage and figured out what materials I would need,” he said.
Although each creation may involve days of work, it is something he enjoys doing.
“It’s not my job. It’s more of a passion. Maybe once I make the perfect broom, I’ll be done. said DuMoul.
More than a dozen young writers from Toronto Junior High School also shared their talents by entering a poetry contest led by teachers Lynda Glenn and Cathie Thomas.
Many took to the festival stage to read their works. Some comrades were recruited to share poems written by those who were not present.
The subjects of the poems ranged from seasons and holidays, pets and nature, local businesses and the city as a whole, a vision of an afterlife in hell, to the experience of grieving death. of a loved one.
After all the poetry was recited, the winners were named. The top was Cole Matthew Kuruc, Livia Board and Pierce Rey, while a group of second-place winners consisted of Haley Bodnar, Trenton Hess and Shaiann Saunders. An honorable mention was awarded to Maggie Long.
The teachers said that as a reward for their creativity and bravery in sharing their work publicly, everyone would be treated to an ice cream party and receive extra credit.
Visitors to the Main Street Museum also heard from writers: Mary Zwierzchowski, Tom Zielinsky and Bob Petras, who each wrote books on local history.
While busy organizing hourly drawings for various prizes and generally overseeing weekend deals, Focus members in Toronto were also thinking about the Christmas art festival they will be hosting on a date to be announced. in December.
In its fifth year, the event brought together 45 to 50 vendors within the Karaffa Recreation Center.
“It’s similar to that but on the inside,” said Julie Ault, vice-president of the group, who noted that they were also behind the town’s Christmas parade, which will take place at 5 p.m. on December 3.
Ault said nominations for parade grand marshal will be taken from the Toronto, Ohio Art Festival Facebook page closer to that date. She added that vendor applications for this event will also be posted there.