Summer Arts Festival kicks off season of activities in Vermillion

Summer Arts Festival kicks off season of activities in Vermillion Vermillion's summer activities will officially kick off this weekend with the annual Summer Arts Festival June 19-20 at the Old Main Quadrangular on the campus of The University of South Dakota.

A wide variety of events, featuring live music, arts and crafts, children's activities, foods and a downtown sidewalk sale, begin at 10:45 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday

At the center of the festival is its live music, according to John Day, co-chair of this year's festival with Sandy Harper.

"Along with nearly 40 arts and crafts booths, the individual demonstrations, activities for kids and food, the festival centers around a core of wonderful music," Day said. "There are a lot of things to see, hear and enjoy."

From the Jamaican steel drum band music of the Carib Coyotes to the ragtime tunes of River City Ragtime Band and folk songs of Ann Zimmerman, most everyone will hear tunes to tap their toes to at the festival. Different performers will be on stage nearly every hour.

Other performers include T. Wilson King (blues and bottleneck), Rolf Olsen and All That Jazz, folk singer Chuck Suchy, bluegrass artists Art Stevenson and High Water and Celtic musicians Curtis and Loretta.

Children will also find plenty to do at the festival, getting involved with a variety of activities as their parents wander through the arts and crafts booths. Artists from a five-state region will display and sell their handmade works during the festival. These displays will include sculpture, ceramic, paintings, quilts, pottery, dolls and more. Whether people are buying or just browsing, the artists' work will be exhibited for festival goers both Saturday and Sunday.

No one will go away from the festival hungry as a variety of tantalizing treats will be offered by food vendors. Bloomin' onions, ice cream, barbecued pork, French cuisine and beverages, funnel cakes and kettle corn are just a few of the food offerings vendors will have on hand.

As festival-goers eat, listen to music and shop for unique gifts, they can also see demonstrations by Will Cover, blacksmith, Mary Wise, basketmaker and Jaquin, candle making and glass blowing.

In the evening, The Shunka Theatre Company, in cooperation with the USD Student Theatre Cooperative, will present Queen of Bingo, a heart-warming comedy about two sisters who are downright hooked on bingo. The production runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Old Main's Farber Hall with a curtain time of 8 p.m. Tickets for each performance are $5.

Vermillion area merchants will also be involved in festival activities with a sidewalk sale on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce will sponsor free shuttle service from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from the arts festival on campus to Main Street and Cherry Street sidewalk sales. An antique sale and flea market area is also featured downtown.

"I think we've built an event that is community oriented and celebrates Vermillion. It emphasizes the family and has become a traditional early summer celebration," Day said.

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