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"Welcome youth" might be on the calling card of the annual Lewiston Outdoor Fine Arts Festival.

The 32nd annual event, which unfolds along Center Street, is on tap from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

"One of our goals at the Council on the Arts is to really nurture young artists," said Eva B. Nicklas, one of the event's coordinators. "We really try to encourage young local kids to pursue their dreams. . . . Everybody needs an outlet and the arts are an important way for many, many people to express themselves."

Highlights of the festival are the 15th annual Chalk Walk, which features teams of high school students who create themes surrounding cubism, a style employed by Picasso himself. The event will be held on Fifth Street from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

High school and college artists will display their works along College Alley, a thoroughfare "for high school students and college students who are just learning about it or who just want to break into the arts," according to the show's sponsors.

Monetary prizes awarded during the festival include those for best of show, sculpture, oil painting and jewelry.

Mrs. Nicklas estimated that about 30,000 people attended last year's festival.

She contrasted this festival to Allentown, held in Buffalo in June. "It's smaller and it's not so commercial . . . more friendly, more community-minded."

"If anything, we're aiming for more of a European atmosphere," he added.

Mrs. Nicklas said she got ideas for the arts fest when she spent a summer in Sweden and experienced that country's very public appreciations of the arts. "There were whole orchestras getting together and playing in the streets and playing for free for people. . . . It's starting to happen" in Lewiston.

Mrs. Nicklas said she tries to limit the artistic field to about 150. Those displaying their works include artists from such far-away places as San Francisco and Kansas -- and many locals.

"Western New York is so rich with artists and talent and musicians, even right here in Lewiston," she said.

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