The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council (GO ART!) presents the 36th annual “Picnic in the Park” this Independence Day. The festivities run from noon until 5 p.m. on Friday, July 4th, in historic Centennial Park on Richmond Avenue in Batavia. As is tradition, this year’s “Picnic in the Park” is a free, family-friendly event that will once again include all-day live musical entertainment, an arts and crafts show, folk arts programs, food vendors, children’s activities, and much more!
Introduced just last year to great response, the event will be preceded by a “Kiddie Parade” kicking off the day. Harkening back to earlier times, families with children ages 12 and under are invited to bring their bikes, scooters or strollers to the northwest corner of Centennial Park – between the Main Stage and Richmond Avenue -- at 11 a.m. to decorate them for an old time “Kiddie Parade.” Decorations will be provided, and the parade will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Ellicott and Park avenues.
Live entertainment is presented on two separate stages, the Main Stage and “Stage 2,” which has traditionally featured performances that engage kids and families. MAIN STAGE entertainment commences at noon with the “Picnic” staple Batavia Concert Band playing its traditional mix of Sousa-style marches and Big Band numbers.
Founded in 1924, the Batavia Concert Band has brought musical pleasure to the region every year except during World War II. The Concert Band itself consists of 40 - 50 brass, woodwind and percussion players ranging from advanced high school musicians to 50-year veterans. Many have professional performance experience; the rest are advanced amateurs. All love to play. The Band's musical repertoire is wide-ranging in origin, style and period, and includes marches, Broadway show tunes, favorites from hit musicals and movies, pop, jazz and even rock numbers arranged for band. Join the Band for weekly concerts during the summer on Wednesday evenings in Centennial Park.
A wide variety of bands featuring local and traditional music will follow on the Main Stage throughout the rest of the afternoon:
1 p.m. -- Stephanie Pietrzak, “America’s Polka Sweetheart,” takes the stage with her “Honky Polka Band” to perform their lively Polish polka music. Having played for more than 45 years in the polka industry, the much-heralded Pietrzak was inducted into the International Polka Association Hall of Fame in 2010. She began her polka music career at age 7 on the accordion but soon switched to the Polish concertina, a larger, square-shaped type of accordion with a distinctive sound, loved by Polka musicians. For more than 25 years she performed as a duo with her mother, Wanda, and the two were dubbed “America’s Polka Sweethearts.” They toured extensively across the United States and Canada and performed on numerous radio and television broadcasts, and with other well-known Polka musicians such as The Versatones, Marion Lush and Li’l Wally. Sietrzak continues to perform with her own band and has recorded several albums, including her own compositions. She developed her own radio show celebrating the music she loves at Polkasonline.com and continues to win awards for her work as a concertina player, vocalist and songwriter.
2:30 p.m. – “Trilogy” is a four piece classic rock and roll band that has been playing family-oriented music in the Western New York area for the past 26 years. The band features Dana Hurlburt on lead guitar and vocals; Guy Macaluso on bass, guitar, keyboards and vocals; Eric Kelly on guitar, keyboards and vocals; and Tom Kwiecien on drums. Be prepared to sing along and have fun!
4 p.m. -- Gan Ainm (pron.: gahn ahn'-um) performs Irish and Irish American traditional music, led by John Ryan. Meaning “without a name,” Gan Ainm recognizes the innumerable tunes that are passed on from one musician to the next, known as a "reel," "jig," "polka," or "hornpipe" that may be nameless, or ascribed to a person or event that fits the moment. The group includes players who have grown up in the active Irish music and dance community of the Rochester area, performing on button accordion, concertina, fiddle, guitar, tin whistle, bodhran, as well as vocals. They will invite you into the high energy dance tunes, soulful ballads, and easy camaraderie of an Irish session.
THROUGHOUT THE DAY in Centennial Park, other activities include horse-drawn wagon rides by Hartland Carriages, pony rides and petting zoo by North Forty Pony Express and the Wildlife Educators Coalition returning with its wide assortment of animals. Geoffrey Clough offers his popular interactive program of children’s songs called “Cookie Songwriting,” and of course juggling and other roving entertainment in the park. The GLOW Area YMCA will have its bounce house and inflatable obstacle course on site, and the Explore Art! Tent invites kids and families to do their own hands-on art activity, all materials provided, and free face painting will be available at the tent. Also, Stage II, the “family stage,” features interactive programs for kids and families, including family entertainer Janice Spagnola’s “The Extra Fun Balloon Show,” magic and puppet entertainment with a twist…a balloon twist that is! Balloon puppets will come to life along with amazing balloon magic. And finally, a surprise performance written and performed by the audience itself in a classic “choose your own adventure” style finale.
Along the Richmond Avenue side of Centennial Park, artists and crafters representing an amazing diversity of arts and crafts are featured in an ARTS AND CRAFTS SHOW AND SALE. An amazing variety of arts and crafts are represented, such as gemstone jewelry, photography, seasonal indoor/outdoor woodcrafts, puppets, hand-woven textiles, glass jewelry, clay creations, nautically inspired furniture, and much more. Additional attractions consist of booths by community nonprofit organizations, including Genesee County ARC information & recycling education, Genesee County Historians Association, Batavia Assembly of God dunk tank and sand art, Batavia Players pizza & show info, ACORNS Genesee County Park info, GO ART!’s Picnic in the Park prize giveaway and many others. “Picnic” always offers up tantalizing food by a variety of vendors, such as Abbott’s cones, sundaes, milkshakes and root beer floats, Lonsberry fresh-squeezed lemonade and soft pretzels, Kernel Cravin’ Kettle Corn, and, of course, the Batavia Jaycees famous "dog and burger stand" in its traditional location.
The event is funded, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts Folk Arts Program with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Picnic sponsors include the County of Genesee, LocalEdge and Rotary Club of Batavia. Table sponsors: Batavia Area Jaycees, CY Farms/Batavia Turf, Roger & JoAnn Triftshauser, and Turnbull Heating & Air. Contributor: Freed Maxick CPAs, P.C. Flag Sponsors: Bouchard Financial Services, Bob and Linda Knipe, McGinnis Excavation & Plumbing, and Tonawanda Valley FCU. Friends include Max & Jane Mason and Paula R. Schumann. Additional support provided by City of Batavia DPW, Genesee County Chamber and the Porter Family.
Admission is free to the “Picnic in the Park.” Please call GO ART! at 585-343-9313, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.goart.org for more information.