NORTH TONAWANDA – The mission to renew enthusiasm for art and renew Oliver Street are at the core of a family-friendly art festival in the City of North Tonawanda.
Over 50 artists will be featured in the fourth annual Project 308 Art Festival from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday on Oliver Street, between Schenck and Robinson streets.
“I can proudly say that not only does it get bigger each year, but the community is emphasized more each year as well,” said organizer Natalie Brown, owner of the Project 308 Gallery.
Brown also is a part of the new Oliver Street Merchants Association, which is made up of Oliver Street business owners trying to make Oliver Street better with events that showcase local merchants, festivals and “Welcome to Oliver Street” banners to beautify the street.
“We do a monthly cash mob at different businesses on Oliver Street,” said Brown. “It’s just a way to showcase places that are usually ignored or people have never been to.”
She said the one-block-long Project 308 Art Festival is also a way to draw more people to their street.
“It really needs to be a community-centered event. I think it’s great for people to come to Oliver Street. Some people have never been to North Tonawanda,” she said.
The first year, Brown struggled to get 40 artists to participate. The festival seemed to be starting to come together last year, Brown said, and this year new artists are joining those who participated in previous festivals.
“Artist spaces filled up very fast this year,” she said.
The festival includes a number of activities for kids, including a kids booth with bubbles, chalk, and a craft, as well as a rock-climbing wall.
An exhibition inside the gallery, at 308 Oliver St., will feature photography by Christina Laing of Buffalo Collective and Stephanie Dubin of artiswhy.
A workshop will be hosted by the WNY Book Arts Center where people can make their own hand-stitched pamphlet journal for $5. There will also be a booth featuring work from the West Side Bazaar, and a Knit Buffalo Truck.
There also will be live music throughout the day from Keith Shuskie, Wake the Dawn, Tim Britt, GVK, Jess Chizuk and Honest Penney.
Food and refreshments include beer tastings from Flying Bison Brewery and a local food truck.
Brown said the September art festival comes at a time when the busy summer schedule of weddings, food festivals, music festivals and other art festivals are ending.
“We just want to show what our street has to offer,” said Brown.