Heads up – here comes this year’s Downtown Salisbury Festival June 7-9, just in time to kick off the summer season.
If one remembers, the festival took several years but is back with a bold effort to avoid April showers by pushing it back to June.
The festival has been reconfigured somewhat for more allure and efficient use of space but still retains the crowd-pleasing elements: dynamic music, community and the I’m never-going-to stop-loving-them-oyster-fritter-sandwiches.
A petting zoo is on its way and face painting for the kids. Rides will be sited this time along the pretty riverwalk amphitheater across from Avery Hall Insurance.
Parking has been streamlined, with access to 1) the downtown garage, 2) flea market lot, and 3) the lot next to the library. There will be no satellite parking.
Jamie Heater, the festival’s event curator (along with the popular Third Fridays) said she wants to see everyone.
“A town fair is as old as dirt and something to celebrate,” she said enthusiastically. “It’s Salisbury’s chance to get together!”
Besides rubbing shoulders with neighbors and old friends, the event is also an opportunity to further our understanding of other cultures.
A traveling performance troupe from Estonia with the tongue-twisting name of Wana WÕromaa Wunkorkestri has been invited to showcase their Folk traditions in dance, song and music opening night, Friday, shortly after 6 p.m., at the pretty new Amphitheater.
The young people are part of the Sisters Cities initiative that Salisbury joined in 2006 first linking with Salisbury, England, and later Tartu, Estonia, for business/trade and cultural visits. (Tartu is Estonia’s second largest city and considered its intellectual and cultural hub.)
Instruments such as fiddles, zithers, concertinas and accordions travel with them to accompany the traditional polkas, circle dances and other folk music.
Most of the mixed-age troupe (the youngest performer is seven) live in rural south east Estonia where dialects and centuries-old traditions thrive.
Youths live and work on local farms but head into the larger villages once a month for intensive study and rehearsals with their adult instructors who are accomplished, well-known musicians.
The Sister Cities organization traces its roots back to 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a citizen diplomacy network that would strengthen and reinforce partnerships between the United States and other countries via people-to-people initiatives.
“I think the group is a visible sign of the relationship we have with Tartu and Estonia,” said George Whitehead a member of the Sister Cities Association of Salisbury/Wicomico County.
International exchanges are an important part of today’s modern Republic of Estonia that was once a Soviet satellite. Each year music festivals throughout other Baltic nations celebrate their traditional ways life and offer a chance for Estonians living abroad to come together.
Visitors to the festival will hear the sounds of locals Paul Permilla who opens for Paul Reed Smith’s eight-piece rock-and-roll band, R&B, soul and gospel singer, Jada Lee, originally from Salisbury but now calls Philadelphia home, is a professional Haitian performer.
For more information on the festival visit the Downtown Salisbury Festival website.