Perfect day enhances the Rose Arts Festival in Norwich
The Rose Arts Festival has been attracting tens of thousands of people from Norwich and surrounding areas since the 1960s. Kelly August, Danielle Dubro and 30 others spend 20 hours a week organizing the annual event held June 25 hoping that “every resident of Norwich will attend.”
The purpose of the proverbial party is to unite a community that takes an interest in and boasts of colossal talent. After punctilious planning, 100 vendors look forward to sharing their arts, crafts, paintings, businesses, music, dance and food with people hoping to have fun and learn. Vendors contribute $50 to set up their booths.
Kids activities at the event included a slip and slide and a dunking booth which took donations. Fifth grader Declan Damm said he likes the event, and “comes every year.” Witnessed were kids with pink hair, blue hair, pink and blue hair, and orange hair. People were dressed bohemian style for summer.
Interesting venues included Darell Seeger, a budding artist who had his paintings on display at the Wauregan Gallery in May. He began taking art classes in high school and returned to his craft in June 2020.
Jessica Zimmer offers painting lessons at parties. Holding lessons at the Fox Brewery, her assignment was to elaborately decorate and ornately design baseballs there. Ordinarily Jessica charges $29 for a canvas but at the Rose Arts festival she provided canvas and other arts supplies and availed patrons an opportunity to test their ability by painting for free.
Barbara Carpenter owns the Autumn Olive Farm where they convert goat’s milk into soap by adding coconut and vegetable oil. Her soap was displayed at the festival and costs $6 a bar.
Twenty-one-year-old Jay Combies shared his decorated woodwork. He owns Combies Custom Woodwork based in Waterford.
Jane Desrosiers and Glen Chase, two successful local authors laid out their published works at the festival.
Chef Kim Dishes is owner of her own fruit and vegetable carving business. Decorating tomatoes, cantaloupe and other produce “make a nice addition to a dinner party,” she adds.
Carrie Dyer represented her 14-year-old son Eli who paints and lands his own shows at the Reliance Health gallery in Norwich.
Reliance House was represented to share all that the agency does for the community,
It was Ashley Caldiera’s third year serving as performing arts director and she successfully scheduled dance shows that took place on the performing stage, also located on the green. Alison School of Dance, Dana County and the NFA Dance performers are examples of dancers, all who made the commitment to entertain the vast audience at the famous festival. On the performing stage, there was Magic by Derek and an award assembly to bestow awards on winners of the 5k and 10k race.
Years ago, the Rose Arts Festival was a three-day affair and hosted celebrities such as Frankie Valli, Kenny Rogers and the Beach Boys. Anne Scribner, who works in Norwich, remembers the festival when they hosted a formal affair in the evening back in the early 1970s. After a hiatus that took place between 1998-2017, the Rose Arts Festival came back, but for monetary reasons and timing the gala is confined to local musicians and a more casual atmosphere.
In lieu of more famous personalities, 12 native bands were selected to perform to represent their places of establishment such as the Art Space Stage, Reliance Health Stage and Billy Wilson’s stage.
Billee German just moved to Norwich recently and states that at the festival she is having a “great and wonderful time.” John Gould, attendee, explains that his father was chairman of the event in the 1970s.
There was a secluded section for beer and wine drinkers sequestered by the Harp and Dragon. The Harp and Dragon is a popular restaurant that offers Irish fare and is located up from Franklin Square in Norwich.
Food trucks included Uncle D’s Blazin’ BBQ and in conjunction Anibal Cintron sold $3 and $5 iced coffees. Another truck that added to the experience was the Vegan Soul Fully.
Greek food was available at the event to sustain hungry passersby, and Wild Bill’s was there to merchandise its Olde Fashioned soda pop. Curb Your Appetite is a food truck that also participated in feeding the community during the one-day festival and is noted for its pastries, sandwiches and desserts.
Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom and Cathy Osten, Connecticut state senator, put in an appearance. Nystrom did the judging of the art contest that artists of all ages entered. Mickie Bettencourt won first place for his picture of Jerry Garcia he made with bottle caps.
The Rose Arts Festival is an experience that complements one’s summer and is highly appreciated and recommended.
Lisa Shasha lives in Norwich.