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Thursday, June 4 Entertainment

Newtown Arts Festival returns this weekend to Fairfield Hills campus

The Merchants of Rhythm will kick off this year’s Newtown Arts Festival with nostalgic tunes and funky jams during a Friday night concert on the Fairfield Hills campus, Sept. 20. The popular two-day festival follows, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21 and 22.

More than 75 artisans will be at The Newtown Arts Festival, which is celebrating its 8th year, according to a news release. There will be demonstrations, workshops and children’s activities, plus live music, dancing, food trucks and a beer and wine garden.

Guitarist/violist David Wheeler says Merchants of Rhythm formed several years ago and plays “groovalicious” tunes. Along with Wheeler, members are Freddie Fredo Merrill (lead vocals, harmonica, percussion), Dave Boyle (guitar, vocals), Butch Bochino (bass, vocals saxophone), Chris Durham (keyboards, vocals) and John Zulli (drums).

A special guest at the outdoor show Sept. 20 will be Jim Allyn, known for his part in the Flagpole Radio Cafe, as well as the Jim Allyn Music Workshop.

The Newtown Arts Festival will include performances by seven bands, curated by musical directors Jennifer and Michael Guman, who are known for presenting free concerts in the barn behind their Churchill Road home. “We view handling the music at the arts festival as a sort of expansion of what we’ve been doing in our barn,” Michael Guman said. “We want to promote musicians and this fits right in.”

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Newtown resident Paula Brinkman created the beautiful signature art for this festival. For years she’s painted a new heart each day in the same place at Fairfield Hills, then taken a picture of the heart. One of the hundreds of hearts she’s created will be on the festival’s T-shirts and posters, said Laura E. Lerman, chairman of the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission, which produces the event. The festival is chaired by Jennifer Cebry.

More Information

The Merchants of Rhythm, Fairfield Hills, corner of Trades Lane and DG Beers Blvd., Newtown. Friday, Sept. 20. $15 lawn seats, $20 in the tent. $100 for table of six. Doors open 6 p.m. Beer and wine garden will be open, food trucks, too.

The Newtown Arts Festival, Fairfield Hills, corner of Trades Lane and DG Beers Blvd., Newtown. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21 and 22, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets sold day of festival, $5 adults, $3 children ages 5-12, free for kids under 5. Cash, credit, debit cards accepted. www.newtownartsfestival.com

“Coming back are the dance tent, with free performances, demonstrations of water color by SCAN artists and the chance to paint in acrylics. The Make and Take Tent returns with two sessions of the Cardboard University as well as Bottles of Hope and gelli printing. All workshops will be in the newly called ‘Freeway,’ where participation will be free,” the release said.

The Art of Science will return to the festival, too. Saturday’s theme will be “light,” including phone photography. On Sunday, EverWonder Museum will lead workshops. The Art of Farming will include designing gardens. The art of home-brewing beer will be presented Sunday. Wool Crafters will make their debut at this year’s festival with their own Fiber Tent.

In addition, there will be a free event Saturday, Sept. 21. “An Evening of the Arts” begins at 6 p.m. and features music, poetry and play reading. The beer and wine garden will remain open, as will the food trucks.

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All proceeds from the Newtown Arts Festival go to scholarships and grants.