A steady stream of visitors came to the Festival of Light Saturday, a tradition that started over a decade ago in Lewiston continues to give kids and their families the gift of music around the county. Along with recitals by young local performers, visitors enjoyed locally made arts, crafts and food at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Weaverville.
Organizer Elizabeth Ann Watson recalled the Festival began at the Moose Lodge in Lewiston, as part of a lodge fundraiser.
“When you’re a woman in the Moose, you do fundraisers,” she said, “so we picked art and music lessons for children at Lewiston Elementary School. At first, it was very small and it grew. It moved from there to the community center in Lewiston, and to the elementary school for a while and it moved here probably seven or eight years ago.”
She said the effort was then improved with collaboration from the Arts Council, and they have been co-sponsoring the program since.
While the event’s name may seem to suggest fireworks or holiday lights, Watson explained it has deeper meaning.
“It’s always been the Festival of Light,” she said. “It’s a seasonal festival connected with lots of different religions, and old Pagan religions where you bring the light into the garden this time of year. We thought it was symbolic of bringing light into children’s lives by offering art and music lessons. They also could get instruments, art supplies, whatever.”
The art program is taught by John Garrett and the music program is taught by Taylor and Danyel Aglipay. Funding for the scholarship program comes from The Trinity Arts Council and the vendor booth fees, Dutch auction, hot lunch and bake sale at the festival.
Asked about the day’s attendance. Watson said the event started out strong and remained so throughout the event.
Trinity Preparatory Academy music teacher Jonathan Imhoff said student performers are mostly middle schoolers, with some in early elementary grades. Imhoff conducted the choir and accompanied on guitar. The Trinity Preparatory Academy Choir — Madeline Alberts, Claire Dano, Tatiana Arnaud, Maggie Dobbs, Gayle Blackwell, Skye Greenway and Kailey Cameron — performed songs which Imhoff called “eastern European themed and inspired music.” Roy Leonard Wilson joined the choir onstage.
Danyel Aglipay explained that she and Taylor have been involved in local school music for about six years, starting with a couple years of one-on-one instruction and classroom instruction after that.
“Junction City (School) reached out to us about four years ago and asked if we would be up for putting together a music program,” she said, “because they didn’t have anything in place at that time.” Danyel said the school had a good collection of grant-purchased instruments at the time, so they were able to begin giving weekly instruction.
She said both her and Taylor grew up locally and returned as adults after some time away.
“It’s very gratifying,” she said. “As a kid, when I went to Junction City School, we didn’t have a huge music program. We had once-a-week singing. I always knew I loved music, so it was really neat to come back and try to be the teacher I wish I’d had.”
Find more information at trinitycountyarts.com.