The Huntington Arts Council’s Summer Arts Festival is turning 50, and the council is celebrating the anniversary in style.
In honor of the milestone, the arts group will be hosting a 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m. During the event, Sandy Chapin, the wife of Harry Chapin and current arts in education chairperson, will be presented with the Huntington Arts Council Harry and Sandy Chapin Arts and Humanitarian Award. The celebration will be held during the opening weekend of the annual festival.
Established in 1963 as a non-profit organization, the council has been hosting a summer arts festival concert series, where Huntington Town residents get to enjoy free music performances from various genres across the nation and the world.
“The town values its long-time partnership with the arts council in funding and presenting the summer arts festival, which continues to be the signature event in the town’s cultural calendar,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said in a statement.
Award winning musicians, actors, dancers and artists perform at the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park from Tuesday through Sunday for 40 nights, with family nights on Tuesday evenings. Musicals like “West Side Story,” “Shrek,” “Nunsense A-men!” and “Peter Pan” will be on this summer. And bands span genres from traditional Dixieland jazz, contemporary folk and classical orchestra to spoken word rap and more.
As the years have gone by, the festival diversified in terms of performers and types of shows, said John Chicherio, the performing arts director at the council and the program director of the summer arts festival.
“The festival has a great mix of styles and genres.”
The Huntington Men’s Chorus and the Huntington Choral Society will kick off the summer arts festival’s first weekend. The groups have performed each year since the festival began.
Chapin is currently the arts in education chairperson for the council. She has been a staunch advocate of the arts for decades, with a strong commitment to arts education — specifically with the Huntington Arts Council Journey program, which she helped launch. The Journey program, established in 1985, is meant to integrate cultural arts into a classroom curriculum. The program runs in six different school districts, including Huntington, Harborfields and Northport-East Northport. Chapin brought her experience as an elementary school teacher to the Journey program to help make it adaptable in the school districts.
Following the celebration at the Heckscher Museum of Art, members of Chapin’s family will perform a concert at the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park. Proceeds from this support the mission of the Huntington Arts Council, which is to enrich the quality of life for Long Islanders through cultural art and musical programs.
“The summer arts festival is a great way to visit good friends and enjoy a summer evening,” Chapin said. “It’s hard to say what has been my favorite part since it’s such a diverse festival.”