By Joey Kottke, Staff Writer
Wilkes-Barre hosted its 25th annual Wyoming Valley Fine Arts Fiesta, a celebration of visual and performing arts in the community, on Public Square from May 15 to 18, 1980.
The Fine Arts Fiesta began as a small arts festival during Wilkes-Barre’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1956, organized by 12 sponsoring groups, and expanded into a celebration lasting several days and featuring a large number of artists and performers from the area.
As part of the 25th anniversary, the Fiesta added a fourth day of celebration to the schedule. Exhibits at the Fiesta extended from Public Square to the canopied areas surrounding it and on South Main Street, taking advantage of Wilkes-Barre’s rebuilt downtown business area.
During the opening ceremonies, Fiesta officials honored the Stegmaier Gold Medal Band and the American Federation of Musicians. The Music Performance Trust Fund, financed by the recording industry and Local 140 American Federation of Musicians, provided much of the professional music for the event.
Musical performances included marching bands, chamber groups, symphony orchestras, classical ballet, folk dancing and children’s shows.
A special musical performance featured the Orpheus Male Choir of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, marking the first time in that a foreign group performed at the event. When opening its concert, the choir presented a Wilkes-Barre representative with a key to the city from the mayor of Hamilton. The group performed the Canadian national anthem, “Oh, Canada,” and a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a demonstration of international goodwill.
Featured art exhibits that year included “Sculpture on Loan,” presented by Wyoming Valley Art League; “Arts-On-the-Go” Invitational Art Show, presented by Northeastern Pennsylvania Arts Alliance; and a regional art show with art from local artists selected by a jury of professional artists.
This May, the Fine Arts Fiesta will return for its 65th anniversary.
Contact the writer: jkottke@timesshamrock. com; 570-348-9140
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 14 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast