Getting a Taste of Piqua

PIQUA — For the first and only year, two Piqua festivals celebrating the arts — be it visual, musical or culinary — combined into one event celebrating artists of all kinds on Saturday, Sept. 18.

Taste of Piqua is a combination of Mainstreet Piqua’s spring event, Taste of the Arts, and the Piqua Arts Council’s fall event, the Arts and Ale Festival. The concern for the pandemic at the beginning of the year caused the Taste of the Arts festival to be postponed, and with the fall season occupied with events every weekend, Piqua Arts Council Executive Director Jordan Knepper said it made sense to combine the two festivals into one event for the Piqua community.

“It just made sense to combine the two events because we have a lot of similar elements, but also, we have our unique elements, so together it just becomes one super event instead of just two really good events,” Knepper said.

While Mainstreet Piqua and the Piqua Arts Council have worked together on events many times before, Knepper said both organizations reached the agreement that Taste of Piqua would be a one-time-only event. Both organizations wanted to make sure they kept one of their signature events, and both Taste of the Arts and the Arts and Ale Festival have gone on for years now to where it’s more convenient to have one event in May and the other in September.

“I just hope that this brings people the opportunity to get out and have some fun today, to experience the arts in so many different art forms. You’ve got culinary, you’ve got fine arts, you’ve got music — you’ve got all these different aspects of the arts represented in one place,” Knepper said.

Knepper added that everyone he has talked to has been craving the opportunity to go out to events, and all the events they’re heading out to are centered around the arts.

“I think people are really starting to understand how they needed to appreciate the arts before the pandemic, and so it’s a great time to be doing this event and really, to highlight all of these different art forms,” Knepper said.

One of the many art vendors present at Saturday’s event was Carol Farley, a retired nurse from Kettering who has taken up many forms of art in her free time, including but not limited to water colors, acrylics, and jewelry making. Her son, who does photography, got her interested in attending art shows and showcasing her work at galleries such as the ARTery in Dayton. She’s found she enjoys attending art fairs because of the people she gets to meet.

“I really love coming to these small areas. Everybody stops and talks to you, and they’re so friendly. It’s not like when you’re in the city and they’re through, looking at everything — it’s nice to talk to people,” Farley said.

Farley has diversified her art by taking different classes for art she’s interested in creating. She’s taken wood carving classes, wire courses, and even a sterling silver course — something she ended up not pursuing due to the time and financial commitments it would take to make the jewelry she had in mind.

“I’m one of these people, when I see a craft I like, I take a course. I take courses if I’m interested in something, to see if I would like it,” Farley said.

Cassie Nash was driving through Piqua to take her children, Briana Landers and Rollend Neff, out to eat for lunch when they saw the barriers blocking off Main Street and got curious.

“I just like getting out when I see things going on in the community — I like to take the kids out, enjoy being with everybody, and seeing what everybody has to offer,” Nash said. “A lot of times we see stuff going on down here, and we’ll stop on the way.”

For Nash, stopping at and supporting events like Taste of Piqua are important because of how it brings the community together — something that was emphasized last year with quarantine and isolation.

“A sense of community is important, so to have stuff going on downtown that brings people together strengthens our community,” Nash said. “Everybody is so divided and separated and isolated, and it really affects your mental health. Being outside in the sun, around other people, music — it lifts our spirits.”