Fifty-six years is a long time for an organization in a small town to continue bringing entertainment to the community. However, the Wayne County Creative Arts Council has been doing just that in Honesdale.
Begun in 1967 as the brainchild of Arthur Fasshauer and the Honesdale Chamber of Commerce, the Festival began with performances of the Wayne County Mixed Chorus, the Maple City Band and the Old Time Fiddlers at the old Stourbridge School. The audience sat on planks that were supported by cinder blocks. The Anthracite Russian Male Chorus and the Modern Square Dancers of NE Pennsylvania also were on that first weekend’s program.
Over the years, the Wayne County Creative Arts Council’s “Summer Festival of Events” has evolved into a series of 14 free concerts in Honesdale’s Central Park. Audiences now bring their own (more comfortable!) chairs and picnic blankets to enjoy the performances in Honesdale’s Central Park, every Monday and Thursday from June 12th to July 27th. Concerts begin at 7:30, but folks are encouraged to come early and grab some homemade ice cream.
WCCAC’s traditional season kick-off on Monday, June 12th, will feature the perennially popular Northeasters Barbershop Chorus, which will be joined by the Bell Choir from Honesdale’s United Methodist Church. A group new to the Park, the Lennoxville Community Band, will premiere on Thursday, June 15th. You can expect some popular classical music and, of course, some John Phillip Sousa too.
Another community group featuring singers from the area will gather as the Wayne Choralaires on Monday June 19th. Modern blues legend Clarence Spady, fresh back from a European tour, with electrify the audience on Thursday, June 22nd.
Newcomers Radio Replay will debut on Monday, June 26th. The energetic Lighten Up! will return on the 29th. Both bands will have the crowd up and dancing to pop music and other hits of their youth!
The only deviation from the Monday/Thursday routine is our annual Independence Day celebration, which is on Saturday July 1st this year. Beginning at 6:30 the music of two bands will fill the park. Doug Smith’s group will kick off the evening with some jazz, old favorites and patriotic tunes. The Crystal Band out of Scranton will top off the evening with some rousing marches and old favorites as well. Novelty and food vendors will fill Court Street with fun and delicious treats. Fireworks, sponsored by the Greater Honesdale Partnership, will light up the sky from Irving Cliff starting around 9:15.(The rain date is Friday, July 7th. There will be no concert on July 3rd.)
Last year Moss Henry and the Brophytes debuted in Honesdale to great acclaim, and will return on July 6th.
Anyone who went to a prom in a gym growing up in Honesdale will remember the Poets. The Luongo Brothers Band features two members of that group, and always draws a huge crowd. Folks wanting to experience the joys of their youth again should be sure to be in the Park on Monday, July 10th!
The season starts to wind down with the extraordinary musicianship of the Gypsy Jazz Quintet on Thursday, July 13th.
Ekat and Friends, performing on Monday July 17th, is a well-known ensemble in the area and features not only the incredible voice of Ekat, but also Dave Figura, WCCAC’s own sound and light guru, on bass.
Teddy Young brings back his Blues Band on July 20th.
Grab your saddle shoes and bobby socks to jitterbug with the Fabulous 45s on July 24th. Finally, the huge crowd favorite, the Old Time Fiddlers, caps off the season on July 27th. (Due to the size of the audience they draw, the usual rain locations are not adequate, so if it rains on the 27th they will move to the following Monday July 31st.)
In case of inclement weather, the rain locations will be announced on the local radio stations and on WCCAC’s Facebook page.