Second annual "Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter" festival to be held on Saturday, May 7, 2016

Second annual "Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter" festival to be held on Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and the City of Middletown present second annual
Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter
Saturday, May 7, 2016 from Noon to 5pm
Free festival to feature live music, visual art installations,
children’s activities, environmental education exhibits,
food trucks, craft fair

Middletown, Conn.Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and the City of Middletown, in collaboration with many community partners (see list below); will present the second annual Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter festival on Saturday, May 7, 2016 from Noon to 5pm at Harbor Park, located on Harbor Drive in Middletown, Connecticut. The vibrant eco-arts festival will feature live music, visual art installations, children's activities, environmental education exhibits, food trucks, and a craft fair; all designed to bring the public closer to the rich culture, history, and science of the Connecticut River.

Admission to the festival is free. There will be free parking at the Mellilli Plaza Municipal Parking Lot, located on Melilli Plaza between Washington and Court Street; and at Arcade Parking Lot, located off of Court Street, in Middletown. There will be no public parking at Harbor Park. The main festival entrance is through the Harbor Park tunnel, accessible from the Mellilli Plaza Municipal Parking Lot. The festival will be held rain or shine.

Following welcoming remarks from Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, live music performances on the main stage will include the Middletown Symphonic Band playing river songs (Noon to 12:45pm);  salsa by Boston-based Los Sugar Kings (1pm to 1:45pm); the African rhythms of Chief Patrick Okwy Osadebe Highlife Band International, featuring Asher Delerme '78 from the band Mikata (2pm to 2:45pm); the Vermont-based gypsy jazz trio They Might Be Gypsies (3pm to 3:45pm); and the steel pan melodies of the Hartford Steel Symphony (4pm to 4:45pm).

The gazebo stage will feature a pottery demonstration by Gary O’Neil of Wesleyan Potters (Noon to 12:45pm);  story time with Russell Librarian Laura Larsen (12:45pm to 1pm);  a children’s performance by Sunnytrain (1pm to 1:45pm); Wesleyan a cappella groups (2:45pm to 3:45pm); and Anitra Brooks performing “Strange Fruit” and other songs as part of Middletown One Book (3:45pm to 4pm). There will also be two performances (from 2pm to 2:45pm; and 4pm to 4:45pm) by Wesleyan students in collaboration with choreographer Allison Orr, the Menakka and Essel Bailey '66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment, and Middletown Water and Sewer Department employees based on the work they do in the community.

Six newly commissioned works of visual art will be on temporary display, including the "Quiet River" installation by Jessica CuniTim Applebee, and environmental art students at Choate Rosemary Hall; "Tides," a hand-drawn, stop-motion animation by Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Art and Art Studio Technician Kate Ten Eyck with a soundtrack by Michael Pestel; "Moon in the Tall Grass, Site II," an installation by Hong Hong; "Unbottleed," an interactive sculpture by Middletown High School student Sonya Hadley; "Hitherto" images by Claudia Cron; and "Downstream," a video installation by Joseph Smolinski.

Colorful Koi flags, created by community members in workshops with Japanese artist Taichiro Takamatsu at the fifth annual "The Big Draw: Middletown" on April 16, will debut at the festival before traveling to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Other festival events include eco-magician Cyril the Sorcerer (Noon to 5pm); a drum circle organized by The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts and Cultural Center (Noon to 5pm);  Middletown Public Schools Bookmobile (Noon to 2pm); the Circophony Youth Circus (Noon to 1pm); a dance lesson by New Haven's Alisa’s House of Salsa (12:45pm to 1pm); artist Anne Cubberly’s giant “Water” puppet (1pm to 4pm); plein air painters (1pm to 4pm); and the Middletown High School's crew team regatta on the Connecticut River (3pm to 5pm).

Children's activities will include games and art projects including miniature windmills, bird-houses, print-making, and stamp-carving; a letterboxing scavenger hunt with free prizes; children’s art exhibits; live raptor (owl and hawk) and pond critter demonstrations; fishing workshops with Shane Grant from the Russell Library; and pick-up games with the Middlesex YMCA. The Kidcity Children's Museum "Make-a-Town" will challenge kids to create their own city from PVC pipes, connectors, cardboard, and pipe cleaners. Play Jenga—regular and giant-size—with The Board Room.

Environmental exhibitors will be on hand to share their passion for backyard composting, birding, hiking trails, recycling, and Harbor Park redevelopment plans. The Middletown Clean Energy Task Force, New England Conservation Services, and Victory Energy Solutions will be on hand to answer questions about the latest residential efficiency offerings available from Connecticut’s "Energize CT" programs, and will be offering free LED light bulbs (limit three per Middletown resident, while supplies last; bring your old bulbs for recycling). Staff from the Pedal Power Bicycle Shop will help you get ready to ride, including fixing flat tires and demonstrating how to have a bike helmet correctly fitted.

Food trucks and vendors will include Al’s Kettle Corn, Mamoun's Falafel Cart, NoRA's Cupcake Company, Popcentric Popsicles, Raw You-niverse, Spuds Your Way, Sweet Madelines, and the Mattabesett Canoe Club Beer Garden.

For more information, including a festival schedule, map, and list of participating organizations and vendors, please visit or call (860) 685-3355. Programs and artists are subject to change without notice.

Partners include the City of Middletown, Blue Earth Compost, The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts and Cultural Center, Jonah Center for Earth and Art, I-Park International Artist-in-Residence Program, Kidcity Children's Museum, Mattabesett Canoe Club, Middletown Garden Club, Middletown High School Rowing Team, Middlesex County Historical Society, Oddfellows Playhouse, Middlesex YMCA, Russell Library; and Wesleyan University's Center for the ArtsCenter for Community Partnerships, College of the Environment, Green Street Teaching and Learning Center, and Office of Sustainability. Media sponsors include the Hartford Courant, WNPR, and WESU 88.1FM, who will have a presence at the festival, in addition to iCRV Radio. 

Exhibitors include the Art Guild of MiddletownA Place Called Hope21st Century LearnersCentral Connecticut Rowing ClubComplete StreetsConnecticut Forest and Parks AssociationConnecticut River Coastal Conservation DistrictConnecticut River MuseumConnecticut River Watershed CouncilEE SmartsEveryone OutsideFood and Water WatchGreenskies SolarMattabeseck AudubonMiddlesex Land Trust, Middletown Garden ClubNortheast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut's Organic Land CareNorth End Action Team, TechniartUniversity of Connecticut Master Gardener and Master Composter Program, and Upward Bound.

Made possible by the Connecticut Office of the Arts, the City of Middletown, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockfall Foundation, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, the Community Foundation of Middlesex CountyTighe & Bond, and Wesleyan University’s Green Fund.  Funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.