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Festival condenses art, music into two days

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

No matter what events they offered on the last day of the Lower Town Arts and Music Festival, organizers said they just can't compete with Sunday dinner.

The festival committee has opted to pack what was once three days of music, art and activities into a two-day run due to low Sunday attendance, festival planners Michael and Victoria Terra said.

"Over the course of the last four years, we have tried all sorts of different things to bring people out after church for the festival," Michael Terra said. "But it's very, very hard in this town to change that wonderful tradition of people spending time with their friends and families after church."

Of the more than 16,000 people who visited last year's festival, the bulk came on Friday and Saturday, Victoria Terra said. Vendors complained of low attendance and the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, which partners with the festival committee to book the musical acts, had trouble scheduling artists for Sundays. So the committee made a unanimous decision to consolidate the event, she said.

But the event will continue to provide a venue for the array of artists, musicians and food vendors that make it the third best-attended festival in Paducah. Roughly 70 artists and 25 bands taken from a 350-mile radius will fill six blocks of the arts district, which will be closed to vehicular traffic.

New features include artist demonstrations in printmaking and furniture-building; performances by the River City Poetry group from the balconies of Lower Town; and a mural team's project to transform the Terras' own white van into a rolling work of art, the organizers said.

Musical highlights on the festival's two outdoor stages include the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, the steel pan jazz-fusion ensemble Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, and local folk and bluegrass favorite Bawn in the Mash. Two official after parties featuring festival musicians are scheduled for 10:30 p.m. at Maiden Alley Cinema, 112 Maiden Alley.

This marks the fifth year that the Lower Town Neighborhood Association has promoted and organized the festival. In previous years, the city of Paducah controlled the event. The city continues to assist the festival with $57,000 in in-kind services, and the festival's total budget falls between $80,000 and $90,000 every year, the Terras said.

This year's festival will be held Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17. Music starts on the main stage at 3 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday. For more information, visit lowertownamf.com.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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