PIQUA — Music filled the downtown area on Friday as the Taste of the Arts took off, drawing attendees out to enjoy the warm weather, the tasty treats, and the art displays.
“We are truly blessed with great weather,” said Lorna Swisher, executive director of host organization Mainstreet Piqua, adding that the Taste of the Arts was a “great opportunity” for people to enjoy the weather.
Bob and Micki Heater of Piqua were out at Taste of the Arts doing just that, in addition to seeing art demonstrations like the chainsaw sculptor Dayle Lewis.
“This happens every year, and the weather’s so nice,” Bob Heater said.
Deb Harris and Diana Harris Benton, both Piqua natives, also came out to support the community event.
“We’ve been here about two or three times now,” Harris said when asked how often they’ve attended the Taste of the Arts celebration. They each said that they enjoyed the music and watching the crowd.
“I come here every year,” said Joe Wilson of Piqua, who also stopped by the Taste of the Arts to support the local event.
The Taste of the Arts also remembered one of Piqua’s dedicated and notable community volunteers, Cheryl Stiefel Francis, who passed away in January.
In addition to volunteering for several local organizations, Francis also worked as the executive director of the Miami County Foundation and chaired Mainstreet Piqua’s Taste of the Arts event from its inception.
“Every single committee person has felt a void with her not being here,” Swisher said.
Swisher added that while Francis’ absence was felt, it inspired everyone involved to work hard in her memory.
Attendees at the Taste of the Arts also had an opportunity to remember Francis through the committee-provided Cookies for Cheryl that were available at the event.
Artists in the downtown included watercolorist Rusty Harden of Tipp City — a self-taught artist who has painted professionally for 15 years and is the owner of the Rusty Harden Art Studio and Boutique in Tipp City — at Readmore’s Hallmark, wood carvers Don Worley and Jim Foster of the Dayton Woodcarver’s Society at Susie’s Big Dipper, quilters from St. Boniface Church at the Mercantile, sketching and drawing demos by Megan Hager and Dan Knepper at the Piqua Arts Council, and more. Chainsaw sculptor Dayle Lewis was also demonstrating his work near Readmore’s Hallmark.
Amy and Mark McGraw, owners of Artistic Earth Pottery, a teaching studio in downtown Troy, put on a pottery demonstration in front of the Apple Tree Gallery. Amy McGraw explained how they would be showing different ways of throwing pottery on a wheel.
Mark McGraw noted that another aspect of pottery is the relaxation it brings.
“That’s why we got into this … We found relaxation through pottery,” he said. They hope to bring that sense of relaxation to other people through their studio. In addition to classes, Amy McGraw said that they host a number of parties.
The Piqua Arts Council’s photography exhibition was featured at the Schmidlapp Library, and the Piqua Public Library also hosted the Ohio Watercolor Exhibition during Taste of the Arts.
While the Ohio Watercolor Exhibition was on display on the second floor of the library, the lobby of the library was host to kids and their families to see environmental children’s entertainer Chris Rowlands. One of Rowlands’ sing-alongs taught kids about the gravitational attractions between the Earth, sun, and moon that affect high and low tides.
Music was heard throughout the evening as Red Hot Rhythm Review performed underneath the entertainment tent in between Barclay’s Men’s-Women’s Clothiers and 311 Drafthouse.
At the other end of the festival, a Japanese drumming cadre made up of 24 junior high and high school students from Mississinawa Valley, also performed. The Kuroi Taka Taiko drumming group combined choreography and drumming with cultural costuming (masks, kimonos, and props) to entertain in front of Readmore’s Hallmark and the Kids Zone on Main Street.
New businesses on Main Street also took the Taste of the Arts as an opportunity to introduce themselves to the community.
“I teach cardio drumming here,” said Brooke Spradlin, owner of Bounce Back Studio, located at 411 N. Main St., where classes are offered on Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m. Kiddio Drumming, which is a 30-minute guided fitness routine for kids, is offered on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
Spradlin explained that the purpose of the cardio drumming is to exercise and get one’s heart rate up.
“We try to have fun while doing it,” Spradlin said.
For more information, call or text Bounce Back Studio at (937) 541-2256. Walk-ins are $6 for adult cardio drumming classes. Kiddio Drumming costs $4 per session.
Rosebud’s Ranch and Garden, which offers a variety of honey-sweetened fruit butters, seasonings, and more, will soon be occupying the former Z-Coils shoe store at 431 N. Main St. (the corner of Main and Greene streets). Owner Amber Lange started her business by selling her organic and locally-sourced products at farmers’ markets, and it has since grown from its start in 2013.
“That is what my business was built on,” Lange said about the fruit butters and seasonings. At her new location on Main Street, she will also be offering pastured poultry and other meats as well as bulk spices and herbs. She is expected to open the store front later this summer. For more information, visit RosebudsRanchAndGarden.com or call (937) 214-1801.
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com