On the first weekend of September in the year 2015, a celebration emerged throughout the town of Stroudsburg, PA from the careful planning of several groups, individuals, and businesses that are associated with the borough. Although this weekend presented the 9th Annual Stroudfest which honors everything relating to the town, a special joyous element was added to the annual festival. This element was the town's Bicentennial (1815 – 2015) which commemorated the borough's founding by it's namesake Jacob Stroud 200 years ago. The celebration included numerous concerts featuring a wide variety of musical styles and genres, Art and Fashion shows, special events, vendors galore (over 100 of them), and a fireworks display.
The festivities began at town's The Sherman Theater who presented a free concert on Friday September 4th that was sponsored by First Keystone Community Bank www.fkcbank.com. It featured the Trinity Bicentennial Band as led by Karl McDannell along with the newly formed Pocono Local Vocals as led by Bob Ridday. The theater filled with music lovers as the orchestra and choir were preparing their selections for the evening. A quiet anticipation filled the venue as Stroudsburg's Borough Manager, Cathryn C. Thomas (who is a member of the band), blessed the microphone with her welcoming remarks along with some insights relating to the evening's performance. Her words were followed by the appearance of a gentleman from the orchestra who served as the band's narrator and whose name I, unfortunately, neglected to get. It was after his opening words did the conductor lift his baton to entreat the first notes of the first composition from the musical assemblage.
The concert consisted of a wide variety of music from a plethora of sources including Broadway Musicals, Irving Berlin compositions, and songs written by the Beatles. The orchestra and chorus also presented several special pieces which were written and dedicated to Stroudsburg, PA by the late Fred Waring who presented a National Radio Program during the early days of audio broadcasting. The performance concluded with a rousing rendering of a a piece composed by John Phillip Sousa titled, “Stars and Strips Forever” which was greeted by a standing ovation and a call for an encore. However, since the orchestra and choir has exhausted their repertoire for the evening, the well performed concert came to an end inspiring those who left the theater to return the following day to enjoy the offerings of the continued celebration.
The Trinity Centennial Band is comprised of amateur and professional musicians from the Pocono area and was founded in 1992. The Pocono Local Vocals is a forty person choir consisting of members of the community who love to sing. You can learn more about The Trinity Centennial Band by exploring their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/pages/Trinity-Centennial-Band/173643312684061?fref=ts.
As the morning sun approached its zenith on Saturday September 5th, a wonderful balance of the heat of a Summer Day and the coolness of an Autumnal breeze filled the day. I traveled to town by foot which afforded me the opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of Stroudfest even before I stepped upon the main street of Stroudsburg. When I did, I came across the festival's Bicentennial Stage where I was met by Stroudsburg's Borough Manager, Cathryn C. Thomas, and former educator, William Weitzman, who were dressed in period costumes while sharing information with those who came to acquire about the town's history. It was after my chat with these individuals did I venture to the stage where the DayBreak Musical Group were preparing for their performance of the day. However, the call of the festival created a desire to explore other aspects of the event so I left before they began their set.
I strolled along the aisles of produce and other vendors who were a part of the weekly Monroe Farmer's Market www.facebook.com/monroefarmersmkt?fref=ts which takes place in the town's courthouse square every Saturday from 8am until noon. The offerings of local businesses were expanded upon for the festival and their plentiful array of produce, bakery goods, wines, and other items enticed the crowd to partake of their wares. They included Rolling Hills Farm Garlic Vinegar www.rollinghillsgarlicvinegar.com, The Stone Oven at Apple Ridge Farm www.appleridge.net, OHF Orchards Patootohfororchards@gmail.com, and The Blue Ridge Estate Vineyard and Winery www.blueridgewineryandvinyards.com.
My stroll through the Farmer's Market led me to the food court area where cuisine from every imaginable variety could be found. The mouthwatering aromas and sights filled the senses as music touched the ear as it was being performed on The Sarah Street Grill Stage by The Wallace Brothers www.facebook.com/TheWallaceBrothers?fref=ts whose country flavors delighted to crowd. It was during their performance did I venture into The PoconoArts Cultural Center to view their A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words: Narrative Art Exhibit whose Artists' Reception would take place later in the day. It was good to be among the work in the quietness of the gallery before those who would seek to explore their wonders populated the venue. I then roamed the streets of Stroudsburg and encountered a wide variety of vendors who joyfully offered their wares to passerbys. These included members of the Notre Dame Spartans (a female soccer team) www.ndhigh.org selling cupcakes to benefit the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center www.facebook.com/PoconoMedicalCenter, The Perfect Match www.facebook.com/woodartbywalter?fref=ts, Artist George Shortess www.lehigh.edu/-gks0/, Eleve Dance Theater www.facebook.com/EleveDanceTheater?fref=ts, Busy Beehive Giftware and Apparel 610-683-5255, Timeless Petals www.timelesspetals.com, NEPA Community Federal Credit Union www.nepafcu.org, Vi Vi Body Work 570-421-7086, The Theater Studio: A Confidence Theater www.facebook.com/pages/Theater-Studio-A-Confidence-Theater/258915317642152, Melon Gift www.facebook.com/melons.gift?fref=ts, Rockn Willy's Tea and Hookah Lounge www.facebook.com/pages/Rockn-Willys-Tea-Hookah-Lounge/272837069403557?fref=ts, and The Dog House www.thedoghousepa.com.
During my travels, I stopped by The SOHO in the BURG Gallery www.facebook.com/sohointheburg who will have their delicious Art á la Carte Exhibition on display until September 30th. I also came upon a fashion show that was being presented by Dawn of New York www.facebook.com/Dawn.of.New.York?fref=ts titled, “Beauty Against Bullies” www.facebook.com/pages/Beauty-Against-Bullying/842063482531633 to inspire more awareness of the issue. The event not only showcased the clothing sold in the venue but also invited members of the audience to strut their stuff upon the runway.
I eventually left the fashion show and returned to the Sarah Street Grill Stage as the Bobby Syvarth Combo www.facebook.com/pages/Bobby-Syvarth/58938206565?ref=hl were performing. It was after a while did I go toward the Bicentennial Stage who were having a free Ice Cream Social along with a performance given by The Joyful Noises Barbershop Quartet www.facebook.com/pages/The-Joyful-Noises-Quartet/358797744146716?fref=ts. I then returned once again to the Sarah Street Grill Stage to watch more of the Bobby Syvarth Combo. As their set concluded, I meandered around the town to revisit many of the sites I've experienced earlier that day along with discovering some new ones.
One of these newer sites I visited that day was the Living Room/Rock Hard Studios Stage who presented South Of The Peak www.facebook.com/southofthepeak?fref=ts. I then made my way back to the Bicentennial Stage as Ted Satterwaithe was performing. There was a pause in the performance as Monroe County Commissioner, Suzanne McCool, presented Stroudsburg's Borough Manager, Cathryn C. Thomas, with a special plaque in honor of the town's 200th Anniversary. After a heartfelt applause given by all who were present, Mr. Satterwaithe continued to woo the gathering with his wonderful renditions of the songs he sang. I then left the area to return to the Sarah Street Grill Stage to experience the sounds of Quincy Mumford and the Reason Why www.facebook.com/quincymumford?fref=ts.
After I spent some time experiencing the magical spells indicative of Reggae musical genre that was embodied in their performance, I returned to The PoconoArts Cultural Center who was in the midst of holding the Artists' Reception for their Picture's Worth a Thousand Words: Narrative Art Exhibit. The beauty of the work was enhanced by the conversation shared among the modest gathering of art lovers. The exhibit also featured the commemorative paintings of local businesses done by local artists in celebration of the town's centennial. The project was initiated by St' Art Stroudsburg who had also added two murals to the artistic landscape of the borough and were available to be seen in their completed state that day.
The Picture's Worth a Thousand Words: Narrative Art Exhibit was a juried one with prize money going out to those who were judged to be the best of the wonderful work that was presented. The third place award went to Gordon Perry for his piece titled, “The Turning Point - Gettysburg,” second place went to Claire Marcus for her piece titled, “Highline Hide and Seek,” and first place went to Chris Sparling for her work titled, “Camping Reflections.” After the awards were rendered, the exhibit's judge, George Shortess, congratulated the recipients and shared insights on how the winning pieces were selected. It was soon after this did the company share their congratulatory sentiments and fond adieus with one another.
According to Wikipedia and the Monroe County Historical Society, Stroudsburg is a borough in Monroe County, PA at the confluence of the Brodhead, McMichaels, and Pocono Creeks and serves as the county seat.. The town is part of the East Stroudsburg, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area which in turn is part of the New York metropolitan area. Stroudsburg is the only traditional downtown in the area with more than 24 restaurants, 9 art galleries, 3 women’s clothing stores, numerous antique stores, several general merchandisers, many specialty shops, 2 hotels, the local YMCA, 11 financial institutions, and the core of the legal profession in Monroe County. Downtown Stroudsburg also features a wide tree lined Main Street with historically rich architecture.
Photography by Paparazzi Paul.