A festival atmosphere is one of the most iconic and idyllic scenes of summer, and Bellport Village more than understood the assignment with the annual Bellport Day Festival. The event is held every summer, and this year was extra special since it was the first time in two years that the occasion was able to proceed at full capacity, instead of the pared-back extended shopping of the previous years, in cooperation with pandemic safety measures. Even the picture-perfect, sunny weather seemed to be in accord with the return to shining form on this day of celebration.
The local artists who participated in both the Bellport Day annual poster contest and the South Bay Art Association’s plein air-judged event couldn’t have rendered a more quintessential summer scene than the one brought to us by Mother Nature on Saturday, July 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., spanning South Country Road.
Hundreds of community members of all ages came out to enjoy live music performances, pony rides, performers from the National Circus Project, the South Bay Arts Association’s second annual plein air exhibit, the chance to view and purchase this year’s winning Bellport Day Festival poster, vividly photographed by Lynda Wagner. In addition, there was a trolley tour, prizes, a variety of mouthwatering food items from local restaurants, the chance to shop at kiosks set up outside by local shops, and the annual craft fair at the Bellport Fire Department, which featured dozens of eclectic vendors offering their quality wares, handcrafted with heart.
“We need it. It’s good to bring everyone back again, and show that we have life in this village, and I’m very proud to be part of it,” said Brian Baker, owner of the Bellport Brewing Company, echoing the sentiments of most attendees. His venue had tables set up outside where patrons could enjoy a craft beer and chat with friends and family, while listening to live bands in the intimate setting of the beer garden.
Bellport Chamber member Anthony Gandolfo was at a booth, joined by chamber treasurer Gabrielle Corsetti, where festivalgoers could purchase this year’s vibrant eponymous poster. “Today is very successful, especially after coming off a scaled-down event last year, and the gorgeous weather really helped,” said Gandolfo.
The South Bay Arts Association’s second annual plein air event was expanded this year in both scope and duration, to include a larger area from which to draw inspiration and a longer time frame for completion. This helped contribute to its tremendous success. “We sold over a dozen pieces,” said South Bay Arts Association president Krystle DiNicola. There were 42 pieces in the competition, with artists entering up to two pieces each.
“The feedback we got from the visitors today was just amazing,” said SBAA chair Claudia Mirzaali adding, “People got a new appreciation of art. People asked questions.”
One of the many unique vendors selling their artisanal items at the craft fair was Fatima Vali, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology who founded the brand Soulitude. Her stylish duffle bags are made from chemical-free upcycled denim. She also features tote bags made from a rare cotton, imported from her partners in Guatemala, who remarkably found a way to bring back a type of cotton that went extinct with the lost ancient civilization of the Mayans. “There’s a lot of putting heart and soul into it,” said Vali. “It’s bigger than just their job; it’s their heritage.” Go to soulitudeny.com for more information or to purchase items.
LuAnn Thompson, owner of Bellport Arts & Framing Studio and co-president of the Bellport Chamber, was thrilled with the way the day turned out.
“Bellport Day brought out a lot of new people to the community, and that’s what days like this are all about: community building and promoting the community,” she said.
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