For the Love of Art

“In the fall of 2013, Suzanne Sizer, the Director of Pendleton Arts Center, and I started dreaming about a day when all of Middletown’s Arts Organizations collaborated for a fun-filled, educational experience,” explains Jackie Phillips, Health Commissioner for the City of Middletown. Soon after forming the initial committee, the Middletown Arts Festival was born. This […]

Middletown celebrates artists near and far


All your festival food favorites will be there, so bring your appetite.

By Sarah Monroe

“In the fall of 2013, Suzanne Sizer, the Director of Pendleton Arts Center, and I started dreaming about a day when all of Middletown’s Arts Organizations collaborated for a fun-filled, educational experience,” explains Jackie Phillips, Health Commissioner for the City of Middletown. Soon after forming the initial committee, the Middletown Arts Festival was born.

This year’s celebration will be held on Saturday September 8, from 12 to 8 p.m. “Our festival takes place downtown behind the Pendleton Art Center, on Broad Street between Central and Manchester Avenue,” Phillips tells me. There will be plenty of available street parking spots as well as surrounding parking lots.

Middletown is located south of Dayton, in Butler County. It was one of the towns along the Miami-Erie Canal, and signs of the canal days are still very visible. But even though the city’s history was built on steel and tough work, the celebration of all art forms was not lost on the town.

“Art can transform the consciousness of a community. It can empower the creators and elevate the observers. Middletown has benefited from these circumstances for years and this festival will perpetuate that continuing strong interest,” Phillips says.

The Middletown Arts Festival will celebrate all genres of art, including “local artists, actors, singers, painters, entertainers, pottery, carvers, authors,” and so much more. I asked Phillips what would be available for kids to help spark their creative minds, and she said “The Middletown Arts Center has provided craft play for the children at their MAC Mobile, this year we have the Bookmobile at the festival, so between the two we should have a lot for the kids.”

The festival will also have a smorgasbord of food vendors, with something for everyone! Items on the menu will include the staples such as hamburger and hot dogs, but you’ll also find “pulled pork, ribs, chicken, pizza, hoagies, taco salad, waffles, wraps, pretzels, amazing famous meatballs, pasta, rum pudding, cannoli’s, shaved ice, ice cream and so much more!” I’m getting hungry just reading this!

The line-up for live entertainment is impressive as well. “AJ Gatio will be headlining the festival with his cutting-edge mix of country & pop. AJ’s song “Too Hot” was featured as an Apple music hot track upon release.” Phillips goes on to explain that there will also be American Idol’s Top 16 finalist and hometown girl (Dayton area), Alexis Gomez. “She is joining our lineup this year, performing her country favorites.”

Other bands that will round out the performances will run the gamut of musical genres, including reggae, jazz, R&B, country, and Christian rock. There will be many local artists featured in the line-up as well, creating a supportive environment for the arts.

“Also a constant piece in the festival is The Performing Arts Academy (PAA), and The Academy Singers, a group of young singers/dancers from Middletown’s Performing Arts Academy, will take the audience on a magical tour of New York’s’ Broadway theatres! They will feature students in grades Kindergarten through high school in this performance. The afternoon will be capped off with a special performance of students from the Performing Arts Dance studio.”

PAWS (The Progressive Animal Welfare Society) will be selling a variety of beer, while LL Spirits will offer other alcoholic beverages for sale.

With every imaginable form of art to enjoy and be entertained by, this festival will surely inspire all those who attend. Art ignites something in our soul. It fulfills a desire inside all of us that we need, whether we realize it or not. We go to great lengths to enjoy art in one way, shape or form, and the continuation of it’s celebration is obvious, even through the darkest of times.

Phillips told me a story that happened back in 2016: “A severe rainstorm hit and basically demolished 15 tents and (many) works of art were jeopardized. At this point, we were forced to cancel the event. A young performer, Samuel Day, was scheduled to appear and not only had his appearance cancelled, but also lost part of his artwork in the storm. He could have taken his money and gone home like the other performers but instead took his act inside to the Pendleton Art Center and performed in wet clothes.” Samuel Day will return for the third year in a row.

All for the love of art.

The Middletown Arts Festival will be held Saturday, September 8, from 12 to 8 p.m around the Pendleton Arts Center, 1105 Central Ave, Middletown. More information can be found at middletownartsfestival.com

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Sarah Monroe, a native to the Gem City, is currently writing her first novel. Reach DCP writer Sarah Monroe at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com

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