What began as the dream of Noelle Kimbell, then a 15-year-old girl, has turned into a thriving, multi-faceted arts festival that features many of the best fine artists, writers, poets, performers, musicians and dancers in the Hudson Valley.
“It all started with this young girl, who was home schooled and had a vision of creating an arts festival,” recalls Peggy Paparone, of the Arts Community. The Arts Community is the longstanding performing arts organization in New Paltz that educates and trains the community’s youngest and oldest in every form of theatre, art, dance and gymnastics imaginable. “She needed a non-profit organization to help her produce this festival. Her presentation was so wonderful that we said ‘yes,’ and thus, COTA was born that first year and produced at Hasbrouck Park.”
Two years later, COTA moved to Historic Huguenot Street -- a move that benefited both entities.
“It gave us more room to spread our events and performances out,” said Paparone, “and it also worked towards both of our advantage. Those that come from around the Tri-State area to COTA became interested in touring or learning more about the historic houses, and visitors that had come to tour Historic Huguenot Street were fascinated by all of the art and performances being done throughout the grounds.”
This year, COTA has even more to offer in terms of eye candy for art enthusiasts and show-stopping numbers for performance lovers.
A series of writers and poets will be conducting readings and book signings in conjunction with Inquiring Minds Bookstore, in the old French Huguenot stone church throughout the day.
Melanie Cronin, one of COTA’s main coordinators, has slated several artists to do “street sculptures” along the main Historic Huguenot Street drag, and on top of that there will be both demonstrations and free dance lessons all day long from the region’s best ethnic dancers.
“That’s going to be an incredible addition to this year’s festival,” said Paparone, noting the four varying dance exhibitions and lessons that will be provided for free at the COTA event.
These include a “Swing Dance” lesson at 12 p.m. followed by a “Classical Indian Dance” at 12:45 p.m., then “Kuchipudi,” another form of classical Indian dance at 1:30 p.m. and “Danceflow Yoga” at 2:15 p.m., ending with “Mexican Folk Dance” at 3 p.m.
These free dance lessons will take place at the Lefèvre House, just next to the Huguenot Street rock monument.
This is certainly an event for all ages, as Rosemarie Dehn has organized a day filled with children’s activities -- this year, centered around the great children’s illustrator Eric Carle.
“They will be painting caterpillars and all kinds of fun creatures, as well as creating their own puppets and doing puppet shows,” Paparone said.
The main performance tent will be located in the field next to the old Dubois Fort. There will then be a second, smaller performance stage in the woods on the other side of the fort.
“What’s amazing is that everywhere people look there will be visual, performance and acoustic art, dance and music in every nook and cranny of Historic Huguenot Street,” Paparone said. “Not only is it a wonderful way to celebrate the vast creativity in our region, but it’s also a fun, exciting, enthralling day for all ages, and it’s free.”
There will also be a plethora of food vendors on hand to offer tastes for every palette and drinks for the artistic thirst.
Artists will have their pieces on display in a large fine arts tent, and this year the historic homes will be open for COTA goers at a small admission fee, to allow for shorter tours of all of the homes.
“This is an event where creativity builds community,” Cronin said. “It’s also a networking site for Hudson Valley fine artists, writers, performers and those that love them.”
This is a rain or shine event. To learn more, just log onto www.celebrationofthearts.net.