If Saturday’s rain kept some folks away from the first day of the Allentown Art Festival, Sunday’s blue skies more than made up for it.
To get an idea of just how successful the annual art extravaganza was, one needed only to glance down Delaware Avenue during the middle of the afternoon.
“Look at that sunshine, and look at that street,” said Mary Myszkiewicz, president of the Allentown Village Society. “When you bring out that sunshine, people come out.”
They did so in droves on Sunday, with traffic heaviest during the festival’s closing hours. Shades, sandals and sunscreen were the attire of choice.
Myszkiewicz, the 79-year-old festival chief who acts half her age, said those who came out helped make the 56th installation one of the best.
More than 385 artist booths lined Allen Street and Delaware Avenue, almost the exact number the festival had last year, and they still had to turn some away.
And as far as crowds go, Myszkiewicz said 150,000 was a safe estimate – although it’s really anyone’s guess.
“Sometimes I tell people I sit at the corner of Delaware and Allen, count all the legs and divide by two,” Myszkiewicz quipped.
For vendors like Joy Duszynski, the festival was a smashing success.
The Ann Arbor, Mich., artist had already run out of mosaic turtles by 3 p.m., to her customers’ dismay. She had sold 94 of them through the weekend.
“It’s been amazing,” Duszynski said. “Even when it rained, it rocked for me.”
Other artists like Mitzi Hall were getting their first taste of the storied festival they had heard about for years.
“People in Buffalo come here to see art,” said Hall.
“I’ve been to other places where they come to eat cheese fries and have a Diet Coke.”
“I could feel the excitement in the parking lot,” she added. “I couldn’t wait to get in here.”
Compared with Pittsburgh, where she shows most of her art, Buffalo is much “trendier,” Hall said, with more restaurants and things for artists to do.
From organizers to artists to patrons, most people said there’s no comparing one year’s festival with the next.
For some, the fact that the festival doesn’t change much year to year is a good thing.
“Why would you change this?” asked Kevin Murphy of Cheektowaga, surveying the mass of smiling people weaving from booth to booth, a new painting of an Irish cottage tucked under his wife’s arm.
“Every year it’s just the same, that’s why we come,” he added. “It’s so good.”
Funny thing is, most had little to say about the paintings and sculptures or the bracelets and necklaces tacked up for sale.
What made this year’s festival special, they said, is exactly what made last year’s, and the year before.
“It pulls in people from all walks of life,” Murphy said.
“White, black, gay, straight, young, old, whatever. I think it says a lot about Buffalo.”