This year’s Ellwood City Arts, Crafts, Foods and Entertainment Festival intends to focus more on the entertainment part than any previous festival. Indeed, Friday will be entirely oriented around local entertainment.
While in previous years, the festival has pulled entertainment from around the greater Lawrence/Beaver County area, Friday will be all about Ellwood City. The festival will kick off with a “community day” beginning with the Little Miss Firecracker Pageant, which was a success in previous years.
The rest of the day’s lineup will feature five bands from the Ellwood City area: Wine & Spirits, D Major, Nickle Plated Revolver, Generation II, and Brokin’ Pic. Friday will end with a dance party from 8 to 10 at the Folino Stage with a tent provided by T&M Hardware and entertainment by DJ Nikki.
Saturday and Sunday will feature additional bands and local dance acts. Also on Saturday, Mayor Anthony J. Court will introduce the Lincoln High School Varsity Softball team, which won their Class AA section, claimed the WPIAL title and advanced to the second round of playoffs, remaining undefeated until their final game.
However, the remaining three elements of the festival aren’t forgotten. For the first time in several years, the festival vendor spots are sold out. “We have 32 completely new vendors,” festival chairperson Becky Guisler said. “We had to put some vendors on the waiting list.”
With 150 craft vendors and 30 food vendors, the festival won’t be lacking in diversity. In addition, some of the vendors will offer fishing and hunting supplies as well as beard care products as part of an effort to broaden the festival’s appeal to men.
The featured artist shelter will be decked out with a train display from the Beaver and Lawrence County Historical Societies. Another booth, for both children and adults, will have an interactive butterfly exhibit. The tradition of a juried art show continues, organized by Alyson Sprague.
To attract more food vendors, Guisler helped potential vendors pair with non-profits. Per festival code, all food vendors must be paired with a non-profit organization. In fact, many of Ellwood’s notable organizations, such as the Lion and Wolves clubs, use festival income to fund their community activities and sponsor scholarships.
This is Guisler’s second year as head of the festival. She took over the 2015 festival when the previous chairperson, Darryl Boots, passed away in April. According to Guisler, last year was mostly about learning the workings of the festival while this year, she’s been able to focus on new ideas while keeping the traditions alive.
Guisler is joined by secretary Raylene Boots and treasurer Beth Kingston. Vic Rangel took over the entertainment department after Bette and John DeLoia stepped down in February for health reasons.
Under Guisler’s leadership, the festival committee has embarked on an unprecedented marketing campaign. “People in Ellwood already know about the festival,” Guisler said. “We wanted to expand our reach throughout Lawrence and Beaver counties.”
All festival committee members have actively placed signs in neighboring communities, with Guisler advertising as far away as Meadville, which she travels to for work. They also advertised with a billboard in Beaver County as well as seeking promotion through the Lawrence and Beaver County Tourists agencies.
“We’ve focused our efforts on reaching out to people relatively close to Ellwood who don’t know about the festival,” Kingston said. “And the number of new vendors demonstrates we went in the right direction.”
“The festival markets the entire community,” Guisler said. “We never know who will visit Ellwood City, like it, and decide to open a business and move here.”