PIQUA — Clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s made a perfect backdrop for Mainstreet Piqua’s 24th annual Taste of the Arts, held last week in downtown Piqua.
“Taste of the Arts is one of biggest events of the year. It is essentially the kickoff to summer in Piqua and is clearly enjoyed and appreciated by our community,” said Lorna Swisher, executive director of Mainstreet Piqua.
Because Taste of the Arts is a non-ticketed event with free admission, it’s hard to estimate just how many attended the celebration. Suffice to say it was “a huge crowd,” according to Swisher.
Thousands of visitors purchased treats from a dozen area restaurants. Popular options included dishes from Lee’s Chicken, The Spot, Heritage Catering, Hickory River BBQ, Mulligan’s, and 311 Drafthouse. Guests with a sweet tooth enjoyed several flavors of ice cream from Susie’s Big Dipper, cotton candy and parfaits from Turntable Café, sugar cream pie from The Spot, and Winans dipped chocolates.
Hospice of Miami County was the recipient of funds raised in a “Cookies for Cheryl” booth. The booth was created in memory of Piqua community leader Cheryl Stiefel-Francis, who passed away in January. Volunteers provided a variety of home-baked cookies, which were bagged and sold. Cookie sales, coupled with cash donations, totaled $798.
“Cookies were Cheryl’s calling card. They were also the way she showed that she cared,” Swisher said. “It was a fantastic year for Taste of the Arts, but I have to say that the success of that one cookie booth touches my heart the most.”
Guests also were treated to classic dance tunes by Columbus band Red Hot Rhythm Review. “You couldn’t sit still while they were playing. This year’s music was excellent,” said Swisher.
The Kids’ Zone in the 400 block of North Main Street was operated by non-profit organizations and in the “Intersection of Fun and Friends,” the young and young at heart, enjoyed games, music trivia and other activities. A second entertainment area welcomed the beat of the Kuroi Taka Taiko drummers. Other entertainment for all ages included a free photo booth,provided by the Awesome Piqua group, and the Indian Nation television station set up a green-screen backdrop for photos and videos as well.
Artists demonstrated in several places downtown, working in a variety of media including watercolors, pottery, woodcarving, quilting, sketching and drawing. For those who preferred their artwork with a little more horsepower, chainsaw sculptor Dayle Lewis carved bears from catalpa logs at the corner of North Main and Greene streets.
Piqua Public Library played host to environmental puppeteer Chris Rowlands as he presented an “Under the Sea” program in the lobby. They also opened their upstairs gallery to visitors of the Ohio Watercolor Society Exhibit. The performance was paid for by the Friends of the Piqua Public Library.
“We had a very good turnout this year,” said Piqua Library staff member Angie Winsler. “I think that those in attendance (at the puppet show) really enjoyed it.”