Annual MWPAI Festival a summer celebration for whole family

The Rusty Doves
The Rusty Doves


You know it’s officially summer when Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute starts setting up for its annual Arts Festival, lining part of Downtown Utica’s Genesee Street with display panels brimming with local artwork.

But the Sidewalk Art Show is just part of the fun. MWPAI’s six-day festival, the area’s longest-running summertime celebration, also features live music, classic cars, and unique activities for all ages. The best part? It’s free!

Munson1It all begins at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 27, and offers nonstop entertainment through Wednesday, July 2. Bring the whole family for a stroll down Genesee Street, perusing the 200 pieces of local artwork in the Sidewalk Show, grab a bite to eat at the Terrace Café, then stay for a concert. As always, MWPAI has arranged an all-star local playlist for its musical entertainment this year. Three bands are scheduled to play most days during the festival, including the Dharma Bums, Fletch & Friends, Squirrel Murphy, the Rusty Doves, the Monk Rowe Quartet, the Rick Short Band and more.

Kids will find a variety of fun-filled activities to keep them busy throughout the festival, including mural painting, sidewalk chalk art, and exhibit-inspired crafts. Children will have the chance to create a Cotan-inspired still life, learn to make Japanese origami butterflies, experiment with positive/negative silhouettes, and create a quilled motif design. And don’t forget the ever-popular Watermelon Eating Contest (which takes place at 1 p.m. Friday in the Sculpture Grove).

There’s plenty to do for adults, as well. There will be displays and demonstrations by the Mohawk Valley Bonsai Club, an international fashion show, and guided tours and illustrated talks about the museum’s collection and current exhibitions. Each day, the museum Gift Gallery will offer visitors an opportunity to “Meet the Artist.” Get to know local authors Steve Mazza and Karen Burt, paper artisan Carol Bandych, papier tole artist Anita Miller, weavers from the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, and jewelers Sandy and AJ Smith from Imaginative Creations. The annual Antique and Classic Car and Motorcycle Show will take place rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Wednesday. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit

Munson2The details:

What: Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Arts Festival

When: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, June 27-Wednesday, July 2

Where: At the Institute, 310 Genesee St., Utica

Admission: Free

Highlights: Sidewalk Art Show, daily concerts, Antique and Classic Car and Motorcycle Show, display and demonstrations by the Mohawk Valley Bonsai Club

Band schedule:

Friday, June 27

The Dharma Bums, Noon, Stage

Fletch and Friends, 2 p.m., Stage

Squirrel Murphy, 7 p.m., Stage

Saturday, June 28

Arethusa (Medieval and Baroque Music), Noon-5, Festival Grounds

The Merely Players, Noon-5, Festival Grounds

Prime 7, 7 p.m., Stage

Sunday, June 29

Rusty Doves, Noon, Sculpture Grove

Stable Junkies, 2 p.m., Stage

Monk Rowe Quartet, 7 p.m., Stage


The Rick Short Band

Monday, June 30

Radionix, 2 p.m., Stage

Rick Short Band, 7 p.m., Stage

Tuesday, July 1

Or What?, Noon, Stage

Concert, 2 p.m., Stage

Tuesday Night Big Band, 7 p.m., Stage

Wednesday, July 2

Concert, Noon, Stage

Frank Diskin, 2 p.m., Stage

Blueprints, 7 p.m., Stage

– Jennifer Fanelli
The Fuze Magazine

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