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Date(s) - 06/16/2023 - 06/18/2023
All Day

French Azailum PA


Second Annual Susquehanna Summer Solstice Festival 

Coming to French Asylum June 16-18 

Music, art, dancing, theatre, nature walks along with environmental and historical presentations can all be experienced in the beautiful riverside setting at the historic site at French Azilum this June 16-18.  With the North Branch of the Susquehanna being designated as the River of the Year in Pennsylvania, what better location to celebrate the arts?  Fourteen bands will present music including blues, jazz, gypsy swing, folk, and Irish.  Over 20+ artists from throughout the Northeast will compete for $4,000 in prizes.  Sunday, Father’s Day, bring Dad to this wonderful location for family fun.

The Susquehanna Summer Solstice Festival (SSSF) that took place at the French Azilum historic site in 2022 was a true celebration of the arts.  In its inaugural year, plein air artists, musical groups, singers, dancers, speakers, and attendees came from Canada, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania to participate and enjoy the experience.  Feedback from attendees included “Clarence Spady (singer/musician) was to die for!”  “Speakers were terrific!”  “I was amazed at the quality and variety of the art featuring so many beautiful scenes from our area.”

The Festival Committee is planning many improvements for the coming year.  The SSSF budget has increased from $12,000 to approximately $20,000.  Highlights for the 2023 Festival include:

  • Presentation of 15 bands at a newly created Labyrinth Theatre.  A dance floor will be adjacent to the stage for those inspired to dance to the music.
  • The newly created paintings of 20+ Plein Air artists will be shown in Pavilion Gallery overlooking the River.  The Sunday Awards Ceremony will present $4,000 in prizes to the winning painters of the River, historic buildings, landscapes, and more.
  • Guides leading walks along the Nature Trail, which received a facelift by volunteers donating over 200 hours of effort to remove invasive vines and autumn olive plants.  The River is now clearly visible along the riverbank with eagles nesting across the way!
  • Kayaking, camping, and campfires along the renovated Riverbank, a Heritage Site along the Susquehanna River Trail. A short paddle from Wysox to FA on Saturday morning, June 17.
  • Father’s Day (Sunday) celebration with Youth Music, the Wyalusing Swing Choir, Joe Jencks Irish music, Kayaking, Nature walks, and possibly fishing workshops.

The weekend’s musical performances will start on Friday, June 16 at noon and ending Sunday afternoon.   Friday is billed as “The Guitar Virtuoso Special” featuring three internationally acclaimed blues and jazz groups.   Included in these “headliners” are Little Toby Walker, a finger-picking wizard, and vocalist.  Toby will be followed by The Erin McClelland Band who has been a mainstay at the COTA jazz fest and the Deer Head Inn at Delaware Water Gap, PA.  Topping the night off will be the award-winning blues artist, Clarence Spady (photo).   Clarence recently completed a European tour with sold-out performances in Austria and Switzerland.

There are great regional bands including the Dallas Carter Band, from the Tunkhannock area, and  The Pelotones, a swing dance band doing all originals from Ithaca, NY.  Other groups include local favorites, The Wyalusing Swing Choir, as well as the alt group Snow Crow from Massachusetts.   Zingology, gypsy swing band will be back for the second year with a newly recorded CD of their Django Reinhardt-inspired tunes available.

The Festival will present two well-known performers on the Celtic circuits in the States and Ireland.  Emerald Ray, a virtuoso fiddle player, percussionist, songsmith, and vocalist will be showcased Saturday night; her second time at the Festival.  On Sunday afternoon, Father’s Day, singer-songwriter Joe Jencks will perform his own brand of Irish-inspired tunes.

The event has a plein air painting competition and exhibits where artists from throughout the northeast will be painting all week, competing for prizes offered by regional galleries, businesses, individuals, and organizations culminating in a final Sunday show at a newly constructed Pavilion Gallery at French Asylum.  During the week the painters will be working directly from the landscapes and towns with special paint-outs in Wyalusing and Towanda.

To learn more about the event and see the full schedule view the SSSF website at www.susquehannasolsticefest.com.   Tickets may be purchased on the site in advance for a weekend pass for $60 or $25 per day.

The festival will also be celebrating the Susquehanna with several outdoor events to coincide with the North Branch of the Susquehanna River being named the river of the year.  On Sunday a youth music event starting late in the morning will start the day off.  Interested young musicians should contact the BCRAC to be put on the schedule. This family-oriented day is also offered as a great destination to coincide with Father’s Day.

For more information, contact the Bradford County Regional Arts Council at (570) 268-2787 or elaine@bcrac.org.  A free brochure will be available in late May.

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