Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Ten Years a Stroudsburgian

Photography by Paparazzi Paul.

A robust wind blew a beautiful day into Stroudsburg, PA as the town celebrated its 10th Annual Stroudfest on Saturday September 3rd. The streets were awash throughout the day with vendors, artists, musicians, and more who made their home in the municipality and those who lived beyond it. The festival took residence in two primary areas of the town. The first area I visited was within and in proximity to the town's Courthouse Square.

The 37th Annual Monroe Farmers Market shared the endeavors of local growers who offered produce, plants, flowers, eggs, dairy products, honey, breads, pastries, jams, jellies, syrups, gourmet coffee, pasta, sauces, fine wines, handmade soaps, candles, and more on Monroe Street. The Monroe Farmers Market is open to visitors Saturday mornings beginning at 8am from May until October with live music performed by local musicians every week. The Monroe Farmers Market also holds special events which include their 2nd Annual Art at the Market day on Saturday September 17th featuring en plein air artists Jill Swersie, Jill Perry, and friends along with members of the Pocono Photo Club and their AppleFest scheduled for Saturday October 15th.

There were a variety of artists and food vendors populating the Courthouse Square area which included Loophead Duudles that featured the work of Lori Lute-Beadhm, Spoon Sisters, and more. In addition to all this, the area offered an opportunity for the many who were present to enjoy some lively music performed by the musicians on the festivals Main Stage which was sponsored by Sarah Street Grill while they danced utilizing their imaginations and/or bodies. The bands scheduled to perform were Coyote Love, The 2nd Street Players the 2nd Street Players, and The Vine Brothers. I was only able to partake of the talents of the later two bands. The festival also had a stage near The Sherman Showcase who presented Keep Flying, Refuse The Conformity, Lila Ignite, Above The Mendoza, Less Fuchsia, and others. But, unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of them.

The first band I experienced on the Main Stage soon after my arrival at the festival was the 2nd Street Players The seven piece band is from Stroudsburg, PA and consists of Dean Collins (the band's leader) on Drums, Aaron Clark on Keyboards, Dave Rabe on Lead Guitar and Vocals, Al Johnson on Bass Guitar, and Rob Menedez on Percussion along with Teresa Smith, Marlo Cozart, and Nicole Betancourt on vocals. The rhythms that resonated within each piece were deftly delivered and enhanced the delight of audience who embraced each musical beat pulsated from the band and every utterance that was shared by the singers which proved to be lively, powerful, and a lot of fun.

As my desire to explore the rest of the festival grew, I left the performance and, after my journeys, returned to enjoy the final band scheduled for the day. The Vine Brothers are from various parts of the country and consists of Greg Bucking on guitar and vocals, Joe Credit III on mandolin and vocals, and Garrett Jones on upright bass and vocals. Together, this trio brought the crowd to great heights through their enthusiastic renditions of the songs they performed. It was a fitting end to the music performed during the festival and the music was reeling in my thoughts as I entered The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center who held an Artists' Reception for their their Local Landmarks Exhibition. But, that's an adventure to be told later in this article. For now, the second of the two primary Stroudfest areas, which was located along Stroudsburg's Main Street, beckoned me.

The sidewalks were filled with Artists, Vendors, and Merchants who offered a variety of items to the multitudes who visited them. These included Author Elizabeth Passo who writes children's book evolving around Reindeer, Political Candidates running for local offices, Joan and Doug Gilbert who offered Handcrafted Accessories and Art, The Renegade Winery who offered tastes of their vintage wines to inquiring palates, and The Once Upon a Fairy Studio owned by Mary Elizabeth Ranieri-Fontones who creates beautiful faerie figures and even more beautiful homes for them to dwell when they're not living in your heart.

Every festival known to human kind has the propensity to create stories that can be later told by those who are part of them. I have such a story to tell with just a minute amount of embellishment. I was walking along a sidewalk on Main Street when I saw someone with a Bible in his hand standing near the Redco Group Behavioral Health Services' entrance preaching to the crowd. As I was walking by him, he shouted, “And, Paul said that he was the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). And,” he continued, “if God can save Paul, He can save anyone.” I continued my journeys down Main Street until I ventured over to Ann St. where an event parallel to Stroudfest was taking place.

The Ann Street section of town is considered by some as an “out of the way” district of Stroudsburg, PA. There are a number of businesses that line the quaint vicinity but there is one area where a variety of businesses are congregated together. Three of them (The Potting Shed, The American Ribbon Outlet, and Earthlight Natural Foods) combined their resources and know how to host the 3rd Annual Artisans on Ann event. The extravaganza was presented independently of Stroudfest and featured over 70 vendors who offered the work of potters, weavers, blacksmiths, jewelers, and fine artists along with a variety of cuisines designed to satisfy any appetite. These included Artist Jim Smeltz, Jewelery by Liz Smeltz, As The Raeven Flies who offered handcrafted wool accessories and designs, Me Crazy Jewelry, Get Lit Stained Glass offering wonderfully crafted decorative pieces, Jewelry by Cimareve Designs, Rufflely Delightful offering multipurpose scarfs, Designs by Amanda offering hand painted glass, MoonShadows Farm who offers a variety of delicious Jams, and Photographer and Digital Artist Dave Sandt along with delicious homemade Greek specialties created by Yai Yai and an assortment of wines from Sorrenti's Cherry Valley Vineyards It was a joy to meander around the immense area as I met a number of friends selling their wares and made quite a few new acquaintances as well.

It was some time before I walked back to Stroudfest in order to partake of its festivities. Once there (as mentioned earlier in this article), I explored the sidewalks of Main Street and absorbed the music of The Vine Brothers. I then entered The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center who were holding an Artists' Reception for their their Local Landmarks Exhibition. A modest gathering attended the event that presented a variety of perspectives of Monroe County, PA sites that help to define the area. The beauty of the work ignited memories of those who have lived in the area for some time and inspired those who didn't to begin their pilgrimages to these shrines.

The exhibit is a juried one with awards given to artists whose work was deemed to be exceptional. Jack Swersie received the third place award for the work titled, “Dempsey's,” Sherwood Samet received the second place award for the work titled, “The Old Mill,” and Jason Scott Williamson received the first place award for the work titled, “Birchwood.” There were also a number of Honorable Mentions and they were given to John. M. Yetter for the work titled, “Pocono Cinema,” Jill Swersie for the work titled, “Apple Tree,” and Claire Marcus for the work titled, “Steamtown Artifact.” The cash awards were given quietly to the recipients which was followed by a grand celebration of their achievements afterwards by all who were present.

The Local Landmarks Exhibition will continue to be on display at The PoconoArts Community Cultural Center's Artspace Gallery until September 24th. Their next exhibition will be their 2nd Annual Artists in Education Exhibition with an Artists' Reception is scheduled for Friday October 1st beginning at 5pm. The work continuing to be on display until October 29th. Local artists who are educators are welcomed to participate and the drop off date is September 26th. It was after my visit to the gallery did I proceed toward my endeavor to reach my final destination of the day.

The Origins Gallery held an Artists' Reception for their Art Is In Everything Exhibition. A sizable gathering congregated within the venue and proceeded to explore the work presented upon the walls. Conversations abounded as the company of art lovers discovered images that both defined and redefined the essence of art. A wonderful beauty touched the exhibit upon which enhanced the qualities of the soul.

It was after some time did the Gallery's director, Jody Singer, greeted the gathering and proceeded to share news of upcoming events at the gallery as well as those occurring throughout the town of Stroudsburg itself. This included the St'Art Stroudsburg who hosted The Origins Gallery's chalk drawing contest that was held during Stroudfest on 6th Street by the Sears' Parking Deck near the town's Courthouse Square. The winners of the competition were East Stroudsburg University of PA students Evelyn Barone, Nicole Cullen, Kristina Turturiello, and Deanna Helverson who received the second place honors which was a dinner for two at The Charcuterie and Christie Lee who received the first place honors which was $75. It was after these announcements did Mr. Singer introduce the evenings musical guest.

The Blues Guitarist known as “Blujay” projected a slight raspy voice which gave character to every song he performed. Each selection was touched with a bluesy element regardless of the genre from which it originated. The collection of songs redefined eclecticism as they ranged from classic blues standards to the songs like “Tainted Love” which was written by Ed Cobb of The Four Preps and originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964. It's most popular version was recorded by Soft Cell in 1981 and is found on their “Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret” Album. Blujay's rendering of each song provided a delightful sensation among the crowd as evident by the lips synching activity that was prevalant throughout the room.

As the performance came to its conclusion, Mr. Singer retook the stage in order to announce the venue's famous Art Raffle was about to begin. Items that were coveted by those who purchased their tickets became more so as Artist's Marty Carr displayed them before the gathering while Mr. Singer called out the numbers. Each ticket holder scrutinized their digits in hope the sequence would correspond with those being pronounced. Joyous exclamations were sounded as the coveted items were acquired by the lucky participants. It was soon after this did the company begin to share their farewells to one another as they set their sights upon the next exhibit to greet them.

The Origins Gallery's Art Is In Everything Exhibition will be on display until September 14th. Their next show will be their Metals and Fiber Arts Exhibition featuring the work of Melissa Bensinger-McGlynn. The Artists' Reception is scheduled for Saturday September 17th beginning at 6pm and will continue to be on display until September 27th. All artists are invited to participate. The drop off dates are September 14th and 15th.

The 10th Annual Stroudfest proved to be a wonderful day to spend in town. There were lots to see and experience to the delight of all who attended. It was also good to explore the talents of individuals who were off the beaten path. This allows the entire population to participate and to enjoy the diversity of the area. I look forward to next year's event and I hope to see you there. In the meantime, you’ll find more photographs taken during the 10th Annual Stroudfest Event in The Ten Years a Stroudsburgian Gallery at

The 10th Annual Stroudfest event was organized and presented by the Sherman Theater to honor the town of Stroudsburg, PA. Sponsors of Stroudfest 2016 included numerous local businesses who support the town and its endeavors. In addition to Stroudfest the theater presents numerous concerts, theatrical productions, and other events throughout the year. The 3rd Annual Artisans on Ann event was hosted by The Potting Shed, The American Ribbon Outlet, and Earthlight Natural Foods independently of Stroudfest. The 4th Annual Artisans on Ann event will take place on Saturday September 2nd, 2017.

Stroudsburg is a borough in Monroe County, PA that serves as the county seat. It is located at the confluence of the Brodhead, McMichaels, and Pocono Creeks. 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. You can learn more about Stroudsburg, PA by exploring their Website at

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