After last year’s successful return following a one-year hiatus, the 40-something SoNo Arts Festival is back again and organizers are promising an expanded celebration this time out.
“Last year was a starting year and this year is a building year,” event director Sue Brown Gordan said in a phone chat. “There are going to be a lot of surprises, as well as things people have come to expect, like the Puppet Parade.”
The two-day free festival, taking place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4-5, in South Norwalk’s historic district along Main and Washington streets, will feature an expanded number of artists, musicians and family activities with a local focus.
“We’re really bringing art back,” said Brown Gordan, who has been involved at various points in the event over the years. “We’re making it much more about the art and the creativity we have in the area.”
Besides local musicians on multiple stages and interactive children’s activities, there will be just over 120 fine arts and craft artists featured, along with performance artists, a live mural painting, scavenger hunt and other surprises, she said.
“There will be a lot of visual stimulation that is new this year; a lot of things that will just pop up in the middle of the event that people won’t be expecting that will draw a crowd,” she said, not wanting to give away too many specifics. “I just want people to look out for surprises.”
Organizers also have been focused on improving the food and beverage court experience in the plaza at 50 Washington St. “We’ve really worked on that to make it a more desirable area to sit and relax,” Brown Gordon said.
Acoustic and electric performances also will be ongoing throughout the event in the streets and on the main stage in the 50 Washington St. plaza. “We are doing more to reach out to local bands and people who would benefit from having a showcase in their local fine arts festival,” Brown Gordon said.
Families also will have plenty of ways to express their artistic sides at this year’s event.
“We’re doing a lot of hands-on activities and more immersive activities for people to get excited about the arts,” Brown Gordon said. “We’re partnering with the Maritime Aquarium this year to do more hands-on things for children and they’re helping to sponsor the Puppet Parade as well.”
The popular Puppet Parade will step off Sunday at 2 p.m., with volunteers handling a number of creations of various shapes and sizes, decorated with ribbons, feathers and cloth pieces. Directed by Heather Kahlert and created by volunteers for months, the Puppet Parade culminates in an event open to the public to join as participant or spectator.
“We’re looking for people to come and march,” Brown Gordon said, asking volunteers to arrive at 1 p.m. “If they’re creative and they want to, they’re even invited to create their own puppet and bring it to march. Otherwise, we have plenty of puppets for people to come and grab and march in the parade.”