By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Sara Nowak of Plainville stood on the lawn of Rockwell Park last Saturday selling the remaining artwork created by her father George Nowak, who passed away last October.
Nowak was a local artist and teacher who pursued his passion for over 20 years, sharing his pen and ink illustrations on the pages of The New Britain Herald and The Hartford Courant.
“I’m trying to keep his memory alive,” said Nowak. “He had quite the career.”
From Stephen King to Elvis Presley to U2 and Neil Young, George Nowak’s illustrations depicted a variety of pop culture icons from different decades. Nowak said she felt proud to share her father’s work with the community at the 3rd Annual Rockwell Park Summer Festival, hosted and organized by the West End Association over the weekend.
“I’m very proud,” said Nowak, recalling how her father would spend months working on a particular illustration until it met his standards. “I think his work is timeless, so I try to keep it in the pubic eye.”
Nowak was just one of many artist vendors at the festival, which featured an art fair (organized by Bare Bones and the association) that showcased a variety of creations. For local artists Kae Ashtin and Lisa Goldreich, the festival served as a way to promote their work while interacting with the community.
Ashtin, a freelance artist and photographer, has been displaying her artwork for at least several years now. Her current works include grotesque paintings from the “Zombie Series” and twisted sculptures from “The Doll Series 2011.”
“I like being out and joining other artists,” said Ashtin, who experiments with various found objects and paint to create mixed media canvases.
Goldreich, a first-time artist vendor at the festival, shared her handbags and hand-painted greeting cards, as well as hand-crafted toys made from wool blend felt. From fruits and vegetables to tarts and mini cakes to muffins, Goldreich said she made an assortment of safe and interactive toys for young children. Goldreich said the idea of hand-crafting the toys began after the birth of her grandson.
“He loves them, and I’m always trying to come up with something new,” said Goldreich. “You can be creative and mess around.”
Besides art, the event also featured a basketball, volleyball, and skateboard tournament as well as a “Kids Zone” that was sponsored by Liberty Bank and presented by the Imagine Nation Museum. Additionally, local bands performed at the Rockwell amphitheater and the gazebo.
Local sponsors of the festival include Thomaston Savings Bank, Bristol Hospital, Wheeler Clinic, United Bank, Liberty Bank, Farmington Bank, Minuteman Press, Alliance Bail Bonds, Bargain Book, and the Republican and Democratic Town Committees.
Dave Hamelin, president of the West End Association, said the festival shows how Bristol is a volunteer community, as 50 or so volunteers lend a hand throughout the entire event. Over a dozen non-profits took part in the event, volunteering for their cause, said Hamelin.
Hamelin said he hopes the festival brings more pride for the community at the end of the day.
“Our hope is that it brings the neighborhood people out,” said Hamelin, adding the festival’s location also brings more pride into the community. “It is designed to be a big block party.”
The event began with an opening ceremony in front of the Rockwell Park entrance, as the honor guard saluted with city councilors, Mayor Ken Cockayne and the West End Association, as well as other members of the community to help kick off the annual festival.
Tom Dickau, president of the Bristol Historical Society, said the festival serves as just one of many ways in which members of the Association show their support for Rockwell Park and the West End of Bristol.
“It is a wonderful event as a tribute to Rockwell Park,” said Dickau, who sold ornaments depicting Muzzy Field at the festival. “Bristol has a lot of activity, and takes a lot of pride in its organizations—this is one example of it.”
A new festivity featured at this year’s festival was a first-ever mini wing competition called “Wing Ding.” Both Wings Over Bristol and Greers Chicken competed for the title of “Best Wings in Bristol,” as chosen by customers buying the wings. Both restaurants faced off in a close competition, as Greers Chicken won by 30 votes, said Hamelin. Serving Bristol for 57 years now on Matthew Street, Greers, a family-owned business, featured wing flavors such as buffalo, tangy, and honey barbeque.
Rich Plantamuro, owner of Greers Chicken for over 20 years now, said the festival served as a great way to promote the restaurant while getting involved in the community.
“It’s nice to be a part of the community,” said Plantamuro, who made a thousand wings for the event.
J.T. Tymchyn, manager of Wings Over Bristol, agreed. Located on Farmington Avenue, Wings Over Bristol has been serving the community for seven years now, showcasing wing flavors like honey barbeque, Cajun barbeque, teriyaki, garlic parmesan, and more. Recently, Wings Over Bristol won the title of “Best Wings” in Bristol for the 2014 Readers’ Choice
“It is great exposure for Bristol—we’re trying to be a family-based wing location,” said Tymchyn. “But it is also great to put the product out there [and] to interact with the community.
“We’re having a blast here—it’s great to reach out to people,” added district manager Rob Kadrle.
PHOTOS by TAMMI NAUDUS